Center for Integrative Ecology

Warrnambool, Australia

Center for Integrative Ecology

Warrnambool, Australia
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Chivers W.J.,University of Newcastle | Walne A.W.,Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science | Hays G.C.,Deakin University | Hays G.C.,Center for Integrative Ecology
Nature Communications | Year: 2017

The response of marine plankton to climate change is of critical importance to the oceanic food web and fish stocks. We use a 60-year ocean basin-wide data set comprising >148,000 samples to reveal huge differences in range changes associated with climate change across 35 plankton taxa. While the range of dinoflagellates and copepods tended to closely track the velocity of climate change (the rate of isotherm movement), the range of the diatoms moved much more slowly. Differences in range shifts were up to 900 km in a recent warming period, with average velocities of range movement between 7 km per decade northwards for taxa exhibiting niche plasticity and 99 km per decade for taxa exhibiting niche conservatism. The differing responses of taxa to global warming will cause spatial restructuring of the plankton ecosystem with likely consequences for grazing pressures on phytoplankton and hence for biogeochemical cycling, higher trophic levels and biodiversity. © The Author(s) 2017.


McDonald P.G.,University of New England of Australia | McDonald P.G.,University of Wales | Rollins L.A.,Deakin University | Rollins L.A.,Center for Integrative Ecology | And 2 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology | Year: 2016

Many hypotheses have been proposed to account for cooperative behaviour, with those favouring kin selection receiving the greatest support to date. However, the importance of relatedness becomes less clear in complex societies where interactions can involve both kin and non-kin. To help clarify this, we examined the relative effect of indirect versus key direct benefit hypotheses in shaping cooperative decisions. We assessed the relative importance of likely reciprocal aid (as measured by spatial proximity between participants), kin selection (using molecular-based relatedness indices) and putative signals of relatedness (vocal similarity) on helper/helper cooperative provisioning dynamics in bell miners (Manorina melanophrys), a species living in large, complex societies. Using network analysis, we quantified the extent of shared provisioning (helping at the same nests) among individual helpers (excluding breeding pairs) over three seasons and 4290 provisioning visits, and compared these with the location of individuals within a colony and networks built using either genetic molecular relatedness or call similarity indices. Significant levels of clustering were observed in networks; individuals within a cluster were more closely related to each other than other colony members, and cluster membership was stable across years. The probability of a miner helping at another’s nest was not simply a product of spatial proximity and thus the potential for reciprocal aid. Networks constructed using helping data were significantly correlated to those built using molecular data in 5 of 10 comparisons, compared to 8 of 10 comparisons for networks constructed using call similarity. This suggests an important role of kinship in shaping helping dynamics in a complex cooperative society, apparently determined via an acoustic ‘greenbeard’ signal in this system. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Cardilini A.P.A.,Deakin University | Buchanan K.L.,Deakin University | Sherman C.D.H.,Deakin University | Cassey P.,University of Adelaide | Symonds M.R.E.,Center for Integrative Ecology
Oecologia | Year: 2016

The capacity of non-native species to undergo rapid adaptive change provides opportunities to research contemporary evolution through natural experiments. This capacity is particularly true when considering ecogeographical rules, to which non-native species have been shown to conform within relatively short periods of time. Ecogeographical rules explain predictable spatial patterns of morphology, physiology, life history and behaviour. We tested whether Australian populations of non-native starling, Sturnus vulgaris, introduced to the country approximately 150 years ago, exhibited predicted environmental clines in body size, appendage size and heart size (Bergmann’s, Allen’s and Hesse’s rules, respectively). Adult starlings (n = 411) were collected from 28 localities from across eastern Australia from 2011 to 2012. Linear models were constructed to examine the relationships between morphology and local environment. Patterns of variation in body mass and bill surface area were consistent with Bergmann’s and Allen’s rules, respectively (small body size and larger bill size in warmer climates), with maximum summer temperature being a strongly weighted predictor of both variables. In the only intraspecific test of Hesse’s rule in birds to date, we found no evidence to support the idea that relative heart size will be larger in individuals which live in colder climates. Our study does provide evidence that maximum temperature is a strong driver of morphological adaptation for starlings in Australia. The changes in morphology presented here demonstrate the potential for avian species to make rapid adaptive changes in relation to a changing climate to ameliorate the effects of heat stress. © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


Miller A.D.,Deakin University | Miller A.D.,Center for Integrative Ecology | Miller A.D.,University of Melbourne | van Rooyen A.,Cesar | And 8 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2016

Estimating contemporary genetic structure and population connectivity in marine species is challenging, often compromised by genetic markers that lack adequate sensitivity, and unstructured sampling regimes. We show how these limitations can be overcome via the integration of modern genotyping methods and sampling designs guided by LiDAR and SONAR data sets. Here we explore patterns of gene flow and local genetic structure in a commercially harvested abalone species (Haliotis rubra) from southeastern Australia, where the viability of fishing stocks is believed to be dictated by recruitment from local sources. Using a panel of microsatellite and genomewide SNP markers, we compare allele frequencies across a replicated hierarchical sampling area guided by bathymetric LiDAR imagery. Results indicate high levels of gene flow and no significant genetic structure within or between benthic reef habitats across 1400 km of coastline. These findings differ to those reported for other regions of the fishery indicating that larval supply is likely to be spatially variable, with implications for management and long-term recovery from stock depletion. The study highlights the utility of suitably designed genetic markers and spatially informed sampling strategies for gaining insights into recruitment patterns in benthic marine species, assisting in conservation planning and sustainable management of fisheries. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


Cleary G.P.,National Parks Association of New South Wales | Cleary G.P.,Deakin University | Cleary G.P.,Center for Integrative Ecology | Parsons H.,Bird Life Australia | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Private gardens provide habitat and resources for many birds living in human-dominated landscapes. While wild bird feeding is recognised as one of the most popular forms of human-wildlife interaction, almost nothing is known about the use of bird baths. This citizen science initiative explores avian assemblages at bird baths in private gardens in south-eastern Australia and how this differs with respect to levels of urbanisation and bioregion. Overall, 992 citizen scientists collected data over two, four-week survey periods during winter 2014 and summer 2015 (43% participated in both years). Avian assemblages at urban and rural bird baths differed between bioregions with aggressive nectar-eating species influenced the avian assemblages visiting urban bird baths in South Eastern Queensland, NSW North Coast and Sydney Basin while introduced birds contributed to differences in South Western Slopes, Southern Volcanic Plains and Victorian Midlands. Small honeyeaters and other small native birds occurred less often at urban bird baths compared to rural bird baths. Our results suggest that differences between urban versus rural areas, as well as bioregion, significantly influence the composition of avian assemblages visiting bird baths in private gardens. We also demonstrate that citizen science monitoring of fixed survey sites such as bird baths is a useful tool in understanding large-scale patterns in avian assemblages which requires a vast amount of data to be collected across broad areas. © 2016 Cleary et al.


McLeod E.M.,Victoria University of Melbourne | Guay P.-J.,Victoria University of Melbourne | Taysom A.J.,Victoria University of Melbourne | Robinson R.W.,Victoria University of Melbourne | Weston M.A.,Center for Integrative Ecology
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

One way to manage disturbance to waterbirds in natural areas where humans require access is to promote the occurrence of stimuli for which birds tolerate closer approaches, and so cause fewer responses. We conducted 730 experimental approaches to 39 species of waterbird, using five stimulus types (single walker, three walkers, bicycle, car and bus) selected to mimic different human management options available for a controlled access, Ramsar-listed wetland. Across species, where differences existed (56% of 25 cases), motor vehicles always evoked shorter flight-initiation distances (FID) than humans on foot. The influence of stimulus type on FID varied across four species for which enough data were available for complete cross-stimulus analysis. All four varied FID in relation to stimuli, differing in 4 to 7 of 10 possible comparisons. Where differences occurred, the effect size was generally modest, suggesting that managing stimulus type (e.g. by requiring people to use vehicles) may have species-specific, modest benefits, at least for the waterbirds we studied. However, different stimulus types have different capacities to reduce the frequency of disturbance (i.e. by carrying more people) and vary in their capacity to travel around important habitat. © 2013 McLeod et al.


Ekanayake K.B.,Deakin University | Ekanayake K.B.,Center for Integrative Ecology | Whisson D.A.,Deakin University | Whisson D.A.,Center for Integrative Ecology | And 4 more authors.
Wildlife Research | Year: 2015

Context Loss of eggs to predators is a major cause of reproductive failure among birds. It is especially pronounced among ground-nesting birds because their eggs are accessible to a wide range of predators. Few studies document the main causes of clutch fate of ground-nesting birds. Aims The main objective of the present study was to identify the major egg predator of red-capped plovers (Charadrius ruficapillus). We also investigated the effectiveness of the following two primary strategies available to the plovers to avoid egg predation: (1) the placement of clutches under vegetative cover and (2) avoiding predators by nesting outside the peak season of predator occurrence. Methods Remote-sensing cameras were deployed on plover nests to identify egg predators and nests were monitored over four breeding seasons to document reproductive success and fate. An experiment using false clutches with model eggs investigated the influence of nest cover on the risk of egg predation throughout the year. Line-transect surveys were conducted to estimate the abundance of egg predators in and around the wetlands. Key results The little raven (Corvus mellori) was the major egg predator identified in 78.6% of red-capped plover clutches and in 92.4% of false clutches that were camera-monitored. The hatching success of plover eggs was not influenced by nest cover (P≤0.36), but model egg survival in false clutches improved significantly with the presence of nest cover (P≤0.02). The abundance of little ravens increased during the plover breeding season and was highly negatively correlated with false clutch survival (rpearson≤-0.768, P≤0.005). Conclusions Little ravens were the major predator of red-capped plover eggs and their abundance increased significantly during the plover breeding season. Any influence of nest cover on hatching success of eggs may have been masked by the extremely high rate of egg loss associated with the increased little raven abundance during the plover breeding season. Implications The high rate of egg predation is likely to have negative consequences on the local red-capped plover population, suggesting management is warranted. Little raven populations have expanded and, thus, their impact as egg predators needs to be investigated especially on threatened species. Journal compilation © CSIRO 2015.


Ekanayake K.B.,Deakin University | Ekanayake K.B.,Center for Integrative Ecology | Sutherland D.R.,Phillip Island Nature Parks | Dann P.,Phillip Island Nature Parks | And 2 more authors.
Wildlife Research | Year: 2015

Context Egg depredation is a major cause of reproductive failure among birds and can drive population declines. In this study we investigate predatory behaviour of a corvid (little raven; Corvus mellori) that has only recently emerged, leading to widespread and intense depredation of eggs of a burrow-nesting seabird (little penguin; Eudyptula minor). Aims The main objective of this study was to measure the rate of penguin egg depredation by ravens to determine potential threat severity. We also examined whether penguin burrow characteristics were associated with the risk of egg depredation. Ravens generally employ two modes of predatory behaviour when attacking penguin nests; thus we examined whether burrow characteristics were associated with these modes of attack. Methods Remote-sensing cameras were deployed on penguin burrows to determine egg predation rates. Burrow measurements, including burrow entrance and tunnel characteristics, were measured at the time of camera deployment. Key results Overall, clutches in 61% of monitored burrows (n≤203) were depredated by ravens, the only predator detected by camera traps. Analysis of burrow characteristics revealed two distinct types of burrows, only one of which was associated with egg depredation by ravens. Clutches depredated by ravens had burrows with wider and higher entrances, thinner soil or vegetation layer above the egg chamber, shorter and curved tunnels and greater areas of bare ground and whitewash near entrances. In addition, 86% were covered by bower spinach (Tetragonia implexicoma), through which ravens could excavate. Ravens used two modes to access the eggs: they attacked through the entrance (25% of burrow attacks, n≤124); or dug a hole through the burrow roof (75% of attacks, n≤124). Burrows that were subject to attack through the entrance had significantly shorter tunnels than burrows accessed through the roof. Conclusions The high rates of clutch loss recorded here highlight the need for population viability analysis of penguins to assess the effect of egg predation on population growth rates. Implications The subterranean foraging niche of a corvid described here may have implications for burrow-nesting species worldwide because many corvid populations are increasing, and they exhibit great capacity to adopt new foraging strategies to exploit novel prey. Journal compilation © CSIRO 2015.


Roche D.V.,Deakin University | Roche D.V.,Center for Integrative Ecology | Cardilini A.P.A.,Deakin University | Cardilini A.P.A.,Center for Integrative Ecology | And 8 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2016

Wildlife living in the suburbs faces the challenge of dealing with human presence and yard management (including the occurrence of pets) which vary at the scale of the house block. This study examined the influence of ecological factors (e.g. extent of grass and food availability) and anthropogenic factors (e.g. human activity and garden usage) on breeding site choice and reproductive success of the ground-nesting masked lapwing Vanellus miles on Phillip Island, Australia. Lapwings nested less frequently in residential properties (high levels of human usage) compared with vacant blocks and holiday houses. They were also more likely to breed on properties with high food availability and larger areas of grass. None of these variables influenced clutch size or the probability of eggs hatching, although larger clutches and higher hatching rates tended to be associated with more food. This study shows that, for an urban exploiting species, habitat quality is not homogenous at the scale of the house block, and that human activity is avoided by a species generally considered highly tolerant of people. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


PubMed | Center for Integrative Ecology and Victoria University of Melbourne
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2013

One way to manage disturbance to waterbirds in natural areas where humans require access is to promote the occurrence of stimuli for which birds tolerate closer approaches, and so cause fewer responses. We conducted 730 experimental approaches to 39 species of waterbird, using five stimulus types (single walker, three walkers, bicycle, car and bus) selected to mimic different human management options available for a controlled access, Ramsar-listed wetland. Across species, where differences existed (56% of 25 cases), motor vehicles always evoked shorter flight-initiation distances (FID) than humans on foot. The influence of stimulus type on FID varied across four species for which enough data were available for complete cross-stimulus analysis. All four varied FID in relation to stimuli, differing in 4 to 7 of 10 possible comparisons. Where differences occurred, the effect size was generally modest, suggesting that managing stimulus type (e.g. by requiring people to use vehicles) may have species-specific, modest benefits, at least for the waterbirds we studied. However, different stimulus types have different capacities to reduce the frequency of disturbance (i.e. by carrying more people) and vary in their capacity to travel around important habitat.

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