skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Williams, Emily"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Abiotic stressors can be major sources of selection, resulting in diverse demographic responses operating via multiple direct and indirect mechanisms. However, unusual weather events are notoriously difficult to study due to their spatial and temporal unpredictability. A severe drought affected the Flint Hills of Kansas in 2018, occurring during the ongoing population‐level studies of three species of declining grassland songbirds: Eastern Meadowlarks (Sturnella magna), Grasshopper Sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum), and Dickcissels (Spiza americana). We compared nest survival, nest initiation date, and potential behavioral drivers of reproductive differences (i.e., nest orientation, investment) between the 2018 drought year and 2–6 years of average‐to‐wet years. Nest initiation in the drought year was concentrated early in the season, suggesting that birds did not renest or attempt second broods. The two species that build domed nests shifted the orientation of nest entrances away from early morning sun and toward the direction of prevailing winds in the drought year. Multiple nest‐level metrics of investment and success were similar in drought and nondrought years. These results suggest that demographic changes during droughts can reflect both direct responses and may also involve biotically mediated trophic consequences.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    This commentary discusses new advances in the predictability of east African rains and highlights the potential for improved early warning systems (EWS), humanitarian relief efforts, and agricultural decision‐making. Following an unprecedented sequence of five droughts, 23 million east Africans faced starvation in 2022, requiring >$2 billion in aid. Here, we update climate attribution studies showing that these droughts resulted from an interaction of climate change and La Niña. Then we describe, for the first time, how attribution‐based insights can be combined with the latest dynamical models to predict droughts at 8‐month lead‐times. We then discuss behavioral and social barriers to forecast use, and review literature examining how EWS might (or might not) enhance agro‐pastoral advisories and humanitarian interventions. Finally, in reference to the new World Meteorological Organization “Early Warning for All” Executive Action Plan, we conclude with a set of recommendations supporting actionable and authoritative climate services.Trust,urgency, andaccuracycan help overcome barriers created bylimitedfunding,uncertain tradeoffs, andinertia. Understanding how climate change is producing predictable climate extremes now, investing in African‐led EWS, and building better links between EWS and agricultural development efforts can support long‐term adaptation, reducing chronic needs for billions of dollars in reactive assistance. In Africa and beyond, climate change brings increasingly extreme sea surface temperature (SST) gradients. Using climate models, we can often see these extremes coming. Prediction, therefore, offers opportunities for proactive risk management and improved advisory services, if we can create effective societal linkages via cross‐silo collaborations.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Species interactions link animal behaviour to community structure and macroecological patterns of biodiversity. One common type of trophic species interaction is disturbance foraging—the act of obtaining food at a disturbance created by another organism. Disturbance foraging is widespread across the animal kingdom, especially among birds, yet previous research has been largely anecdotal and we still lack a synthetic understanding of how this behaviour varies geographically, phylogenetically and ecologically. To address these gaps, we conducted a comprehensive literature review to test focal hypotheses about disturbance foraging behaviour in birds. We found that avian disturbance foraging was geographically ubiquitous, occurring in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats across six continents and four oceans. Consistent with predictions based on established species diversity gradients in different habitat types, the majority of terrestrial observations occurred at tropical latitudes, whereas aquatic observations took place most frequently in temperate marine waters. Although disturbance foraging was widespread across the avian phylogeny, contrary to our prediction, the behaviour was also conserved phylogenetically (Pagel'sλ = 0.7) and clustered within suboscine landbirds in terrestrial environments and seabirds in aquatic environments. Similarly, although disturbers were taxonomically diverse as we predicted, interactions were unexpectedly dominated by swarm‐raiding ants in terrestrial environments and cetaceans in aquatic environments. Diet and body mass were also important predictors of disturbance foraging associations: Responders followed disturbers with similar diets and larger body sizes. Overall, our hypothesis‐testing framework provides insight into the importance of geography, phylogeny and ecology as predictors of disturbance foraging behaviour. We anticipate that this comprehensive assessment of disturbance foraging will serve to generate additional hypotheses and spark future research and management considerations about this fascinating but poorly studied suite of species interactions, especially as biotic interactions face unprecedented risks in our rapidly changing world.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Intensification of livestock production has reduced heterogeneity in vegetative structure in managed grasslands, which has been linked to widespread declines in grassland songbird populations throughout North America. Patch-burn grazing management aims to restore some of that heterogeneity in vegetative structure by burning discrete pasture sections, so that cattle preferentially graze in recently burned areas. Although patch-burn grazing can increase reproductive success of grassland songbirds, we know little about possible interactions with regional variation in predator communities or brood parasite abundance, or annual variation in weather conditions. Using six years of data from two tallgrass prairie sites in eastern Kansas, USA, we tested effects of patch-burn grazing on the rates of brood parasitism, clutch size, nest survival, and fledging success of three common grassland songbirds, Dickcissels (Spiza americana), Eastern Meadowlarks (Sturnella magna), and Grasshopper Sparrows (Ammodramus savannarum), among pastures managed with patch-burn grazing versus pastures that were annually burned and either grazed or ungrazed. Dickcissel nests experienced lower parasitism (72.8 ± 4.6% SE vs. 89.1 ± 2.2%) and Eastern Meadowlarks had higher nest survival (63.2 ± 20.5% vs. 16.5 ± 3.5%) in annually burned and ungrazed pastures than pastures managed with patch-burn grazing. However, average number of host fledglings per nesting attempt did not differ among management treatments for any species. Annual variation in weather conditions had a large effect on vegetation structure, but not on reproductive success. Probability of brood parasitism was consistently high (25.5‒84.7%) and nest survival was consistently low (9.9–16.9%) for all species pooled across treatments, sites, and years, indicating that combined effects of predation, parasitism and drought can offset potential benefits of patch-burn grazing management previously found in tallgrass prairies. Although differences in reproductive success among management treatments were minimal, patch-burn grazing management could still benefit population dynamics of grassland songbirds in areas where nest predators and brood parasites are locally abundant by providing suitable nesting habitat for bird species that require greater amounts of vegetation cover and litter, generally not present in burned pastures.

    more » « less
  5. Nonindigenous members of the Daphnia pulex complex have been found in many lakes in New Zealand (NZ) in the past 20 years, suggesting a recent invasion. However, very little is known about the precise phylogenetic origin of invasive Daphnia, whether each lake is invaded by a single clone or multiple clones, the lineage of the invasive clones, and whether they are obligately asexual clones. Furthermore, the source and time of arrival of the invasive genotype(s) are unclear. We address these questions by genomic sequencing of Daphnia populations from 13 lakes in the South Island and 1 lake in the North Island, NZ. All biallelic sites in these NZ populations have similar numbers of reads for the two parental alleles, suggesting each NZ population originates from a single asexual clone. Based on 25,643 monomorphic lineage-specific markers, the invasive Daphnia in the South Island were found to be Daphnia pulicaria Forbes, while those in the North Island are hybrids of D. pulicaria Forbes and D. cf. pulex sensu Hebert. Both the South and North Island Daphnia are phylogenetically clustered with North American Daphnia, thereby suggesting their North American origins. We found also that all South Island clones contain identical mitochondrial genomes, suggesting the origin and proliferation from a single founder clone, which we experimentally verified to be an obligate asexual. Estimates from molecular data imply a colonization time for the South Island clones of ~ 60 years ago, with a likely invasion route associated with the introduction of salmonids from North America. 
    more » « less
  6. Piganeau, Gwenael (Ed.)
    Abstract Microbial strains with high genomic stability are particularly sought after for testing the quality of commercial microbiological products, such as biological media and antibiotics. Yet, using mutation–accumulation experiments and de novo assembled complete genomes based on Nanopore long-read sequencing, we find that the widely used quality-control strain Shewanella putrefaciens ATCC-8071, also a facultative pathogen, is a hypermutator, with a base-pair substitution mutation rate of 2.42 × 10−8 per nucleotide site per cell division, ∼146-fold greater than that of the wild-type strain CGMCC-1.6515. Using complementation experiments, we confirm that mutL dysfunction, which was a recent evolutionary event, is the cause for the high mutation rate of ATCC-8071. Further analyses also give insight into possible relationships between mutation and genome evolution in this important bacterium. This discovery of a well-known strain being a hypermutator necessitates screening the mutation rate of bacterial strains before any quality control or experiments. 
    more » « less