Eco ethology Research Unit

Lisbon, Portugal

Eco ethology Research Unit

Lisbon, Portugal
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Francisco S.M.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Francisco S.M.,University of Porto | Congiu L.,University of Padua | Von Der Heyden S.,Stellenbosch University | Almada V.C.,Eco Ethology Research Unit
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution | Year: 2011

Sand-smelts are small fishes inhabiting inshore, brackish and freshwater environments and with a distribution in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, extending south into the Indian Ocean. Here, we present a broad phylogenetic analysis of the genus Atherina using three mitochondrial (control region, 12S and 16S) and two nuclear markers (rhodopsin and 2nd intron of S7). Phylogenetic analyses fully support the monophyly of the genus. Two anti-tropical clades were identified, separating the South African Atherina breviceps from the north-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Atherina' species. In European waters, two groups were found. The first clade formed by a well supported species-pair: Atherina presbyter (eastern Atlantic) and Atherina hepsetus (Mediterranean), both living in marine waters; a second clade included Atherina boyeri (brackish and freshwater environments) and two independent lineages of marine punctated and non-punctated fishes, recently proposed as separate species. Sequence divergence values strongly suggest multiple species within the A. boyeri complex. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


Dias M.P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Lecoq M.,MNHNC | Moniz F.,ICNF RNSCMVRSA | Rabaca J.E.,University of Évora
Environmental Management | Year: 2014

Estuarine areas worldwide are under intense pressure due to human activities such as upstream dam building. Shorebirds strongly depend on estuarine intertidal flats during migration and wintering periods and so are particularly vulnerable to such impacts, whose magnitude will depend on the availability of alternative feeding habitats. In this study we analyze if man-made saltpans can represent an alternative habitat for wintering and migrating shorebirds in the Guadiana estuary, a wetland that is already experiencing environmental changes due to the building of the Alqueva reservoir, the largest in Western Europe. We compared the use of mudflats and saltpans as feeding areas by several shorebird species before the construction of the dam. A dataset with 26 years of counts data was also analyzed in order to detect any long-term trend in shorebirds abundance. We concluded that saltpans, in particular the fully mechanized, can be used as an alternative habitat by larger species during winter and southward migration, thus playing a major role in minimizing the possible effects of sediment loss due to dam building. In contrast, smaller species were particularly dependent on mudflats to feed. A significant change in population trends, from positive to negative, was detected for two species. Although we still have no evidence that this is directly linked to dam building, this result and documented changes that limit primary productivity justifies the implementation of a long-term monitoring scheme of shorebird populations in this estuary. We also reinforce the need to manage the saltpans as key habitats for shorebirds. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.


Catry P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Dias M.P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Phillips R.A.,Natural Environment Research Council | Granadeiro J.P.,University of Lisbon
Ecology | Year: 2013

Carry-over effects relate to events or processes that influence individual performance in a subsequent season, but their occurrence in the annual cycle of migratory avian taxa is seldom studied. We investigated if different levels of resource allocation to reproduction may result in carry-over effects that change the timing and destination of longdistance migration. We reduced the parental investment of Cory's Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea by removing their chick at an early stage. When compared to individuals with greater parental investment (controls that raised chicks to close to fledging), manipulated birds started most stages of migration sooner and returned to the colony earlier at the start of the following breeding season. Late arrival in the subsequent nesting season increased the probability of skipping a breeding year. Manipulated males were less likely to engage in longdistance migration, which supports the idea that partial migration is condition dependent. Our study demonstrates experimentally that energetic or time-dependent costs of reproduction may have an enduring impact on migration schedule and on nonbreeding geographical distribution of long-distance migrants, which may also influence the ability to breed in the following season. © 2013 by the Ecological Society of America.


Granadeiro J.P.,University of Lisbon | Phillips R.A.,Natural Environment Research Council | Brickle P.,Falkland Islands Government | Catry P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Fisheries have major impacts on seabirds, both by changing food availability and by causing direct mortality of birds during trawling and longline setting. However, little is known about the nature and the spatial-temporal extent of the interactions between individual birds and vessels. By studying a system in which we had fine-scale data on bird movements and activity, and near real-time information on vessel distribution, we provide new insights on the association of a threatened albatross with fisheries. During early chick-rearing, black-browed albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris from two different colonies (separated by only 75 km) showed significant differences in the degree of association with fisheries, despite being nearly equidistant to the Falklands fishing fleet. Most foraging trips from either colony did not bring tracked individuals close to vessels, and proportionally little time and foraging effort was spent near ships. Nevertheless, a few individuals repeatedly visited fishing vessels, which may indicate they specialise on fisheries-linked food sources and so are potentially more vulnerable to bycatch. The evidence suggests that this population has little reliance on fisheries discards at a critical stage of its nesting cycle, and hence measures to limit fisheries waste on the Patagonian shelf that also reduce vessel attractiveness and the risk of incidental mortality, would be of high overall conservation benefit. © 2011 Granadeiro et al.


Dias M.P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Dias M.P.,University of Lisbon | Granadeiro J.P.,University of Lisbon | Phillips R.A.,Natural Environment Research Council | And 4 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2011

There is growing evidence that migratory species are particularly vulnerable to rapid environmental changes arising from human activity. Species are expected to vary in their capacity to respond to these changes: long-distance migrants and those lacking variability in migratory traits are probably at considerable disadvantage. The few studies that have assessed the degree of plasticity in behaviour of marine animals suggest that fidelity to non-breeding destinations is usually high. In the present study, we evaluated individual flexibility in migration strategy of a highly pelagic seabird, the Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea. Geolocation data from 72 different migrations, including 14 birds that were tracked for more than one non-breeding season, showed a remarkable capacity to change winter destinations between years. Although some birds exhibited high site fidelity, others shifted from the South to North Atlantic, from the western to eastern South Atlantic, and from the Atlantic to Indian Ocean. Individuals also showed flexibility in stopover behaviour and migratory schedule. Although their K-selected lifehistory strategy has the disadvantage that the chances of microevolution are slight if circumstances alter rapidly, these results suggest that Cory's shearwaters may be in a better position than many other long-distance migrants to face the consequences of a changing environment. © 2010 The Royal Society.


Dias M.P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Dias M.P.,University of Lisbon | Granadeiro J.P.,University of Aveiro | Catry P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Catry P.,University of Lisbon
Animal Behaviour | Year: 2013

The analysis of repeated journeys of the same individuals is becoming an important tool in the study ofanimal migration. This approach has been used to analyse the migratory consistency (in schedules, routes and stopovers) of various species, with implications for the understanding of navigation mechanisms, travel strategies and conservation. However, few studies have addressed the individual consistency in pelagic long-distance migrations, in particular in the routes followed in different years. By analysing 100 journeys from 35 individual Cory's shearwaters, Calonectris diomedea, that repeatedly migrated to the South African region we examined the fidelity to migratory paths and stopovers of a transequatorial seabird migrant. Cory's shearwaters showed an overall trend to be faithful to their routes in different years, which was particularly obvious in the first (southbound) part of the outward migration. Nevertheless, we did not detect any individual consistency in the final part of the outward migration, in the return migration or in the location of the stopovers. The fact that Cory's shearwaters can be either consistent or inconsistent in different parts of their routes is possibly related to the variability of the external factors (such as wind conditions and location of good foraging areas) found along the way. © 2013 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.


Dias M.P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Dias M.P.,University of Lisbon | Granadeiro J.P.,University of Lisbon | Catry P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Catry P.,University of Lisbon
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2012

The diel vertical migration of zooplankton and many other organisms is likely to affect the foraging behaviour of marine predators. Among these, shallow divers, such as many seabirds, are particularly constrained by the surface availability of prey items. We analysed the atsea activity of a surface predator of epipelagic and mesopelagic prey, Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea, on its several wintering areas (spread throughout the temperate Atlantic Ocean and the Agulhas Current). Individual shearwaters were mainly diurnal when wintering in warmer and shallower waters of the Benguela, Agulhas and Brazilian Currents, and comparatively more nocturnal in colder and deeper waters of the Central South Atlantic and the Northwest Atlantic. Nocturnality also correlated positively with bathymetry and negatively with sea-surface temperature within a single wintering area. This is possibly related to the relative availability of epipelagic and mesopelagic prey in different oceanic sectors, and constitutes the first evidence of such flexibility in the daily routines of a top marine predator across broad spatial scales, with clear expression at population and individual levels. © Inter-Research 2012.


Catry P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Catry P.,University of Lisbon | Poisbleau M.,University of Antwerp | Lecoq M.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | And 2 more authors.
Polar Biology | Year: 2013

Moult entails costs related to the acquisition of energy and nutrients necessary for feather synthesis, as well as the impact of reduced flight performance induced by gaps in the wing plumage. Variation in moult strategies within and between populations may convey valuable information on energetic trade-offs and other responses to differing environmental constraints. We studied the moult strategies of two populations of a pelagic seabird, the black-browed albatross Thalassarche melanophris, nesting in contrasting environments. According to conventional wisdom, it is exceptional for albatrosses (Diomedeidae) to moult while breeding. Here we show that black-browed albatrosses breeding on the Falklands regularly moult primaries, tail and body feathers during chick-rearing, and the majority of those at South Georgia show some body feather moult in late chick-rearing. The greater moult-breeding overlap at the Falklands allows the birds to annually renew more primary feathers than their counterparts at South Georgia. The results of the present paper, pooled with other evidence, suggest that black-browed albatrosses from South Georgia face a more challenging environment during reproduction. They also serve to warn against the uncritical acceptance of conventional ideas about moult patterns when using feathers to study the ecology of seabirds and other migrants for which there is scant information at particular stages of the annual cycle. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Granadeiro J.P.,University of Aveiro | Brickle P.,South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute | Catry P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit
Animal Conservation | Year: 2014

Fisheries can have profound impacts on the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems and affect seabird populations. For seabirds, impacts can include direct mortality in fishing gear, but fisheries also represent an abundant source of food that may otherwise be inaccessible. Previous studies with seabirds have revealed the occurrence of individual foraging specializations, and therefore in scavenging species some individuals may have a higher propensity to feed on fisheries discharges than the rest of the population. Here we used recently developed techniques (spatio-temporal match of positions) to detect interactions between black-browed albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris and fishing vessels, and also stable isotope analysis of tissues with different turnovers, to investigate long-term individual specialization in fishery waste products. We combined global positioning system tracking data from 89 birds with vessel monitoring system data from the entire fleet operating around the Falklands Islands, in 2009 and 2011. Interactions with vessels (freezer/factory bottom trawlers) occurred in 15 out of 89 independent albatross trips. Among individuals tracked in both years, those that associated with fisheries in 2009 were not more likely to do so again in 2011. Carbon and nitrogen isotopic signatures in whole blood and feathers of albatrosses that interacted with trawlers were similar to those of individuals that did not. Also, we found no correlation between feather and blood isotopic ratios of carbon or nitrogen, indicating no long-term consistency in the isotopic niche of study birds. These results suggest no specialization of individual albatrosses with regard to fisheries. Studies of other albatrosses have also failed to show long-term trophic consistency, which may indicate that scavenging albatrosses, a group particularly threatened by fisheries activity, do not specialize in discards. Therefore, any management actions leading to a reduction of discards will be beneficial, decreasing the numbers of birds behind vessels and consequently the likelihood of incidental mortality. © 2013 The Zoological Society of London.


Catry P.,Eco Ethology Research Unit | Forcada J.,Natural Environment Research Council | Almeida A.,Eco Ethology Research Unit
Polar Biology | Year: 2011

Black-browed albatrosses Thalassarche melanophris are currently classified as globally endangered. The most important populations of this species are believed to be declining due to, amongst other factors, unsustainable levels of incidental mortality in fishing gear. However, detailed demographic data are lacking for several critical populations, including the largest of all, nesting in the Falkland Islands. Here, we present data from the first Falkland Islands detailed demographic study (at New Island) and show that, from 2003 to 2009, the mean adult survival probability was 0.942 (95% CI: 0.930-0.952). Nesting frequency of adults is amongst the highest recorded for Thalassarche albatrosses and breeding success (0.564 chicks per egg) is within normal values. The nesting population in the intensively studied plots experienced an increase of 4% per year from 2004 to 2009. These results indicate that the Falklands population may not be as threatened as previously supposed, although studies from more sites and a longer time series are needed to confirm or refute this. The high survival rates may partly reflect recent efforts to mitigate bycatch made by the Falkland Islands and other fisheries in the region. The reinforcement of such initiatives may be critical to buffer the black-browed albatross population against ecosystem shifts and natural disasters (such as harmful algal blooms) that will likely become more frequent with ongoing global changes. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

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