Competition induces increased toxin production in toad larvae without allelopathic effects on heterospecific tadpoles

Veronika Bókony, Bálint Üveges, Ágnes M. Móricz and Attila Hettyey  Animals and plants often respond to biological threats by inducible defences: plants produce toxic chemicals to deter herbivores; animals grow spines and helmets or change their behaviour to evade predators. Such defences, however, usually come at a cost: they make the individual less efficient in…

Mum knows best: female lizards choose warm, moist nests to produce better offspring

Shu-Ran Li, Xin Hao, Yang Wang, Bao-Jun Sun, Jun-Huai Bi, Yong-Pu Zhang, Fredric J. Janzene Wei-Guo Du In egg-laying animals, the nest sites chosen by a mother can determine the quality and survival of offspring because nest environments can profoundly affect embryonic development and hatchling traits. However, field studies identifying the long-term effects of nest-site…

Leukocyte profiles are associated with longevity and survival, but not migratory effort: a comparative analysis of shorebirds

Piotr Minias, Radosław Włodarczyk, Włodzimierz Meissner At each life stage, all animals face some risk of death or injury. However, certain life-history strategies or environments can be more risky that the others. In general, species that are exposed to greater environmental or social risks are expected to show lower annual survival and lifespan, but they…

Darwin’s finches use their bills as heat radiators too!

Glenn J. Tattersall, Jaime A. Chaves, Raymond M. Danner Bird bills are important for feeding, but recent research has shown that the bird bill can also act like a radiator to help release extra body heat.  We studied this idea in Darwin’s finches, which have been the source of transformative findings about the evolution of animals….

Effects of mammals on specialized leafhoppers

Martijn L. Vandegehuchte, Valeria Trivellone, Martin Schütz, Jennifer Firn, Frederic de Schaetzen, and Anita C. Risch Grazing mammals can indirectly influence insects feeding on the same plants. However, these mammals do not just eat any plant. Some plants are nutritious while others are difficult to digest. As the preferred plants get eaten more, less plant…

Insulin-like growth factor 1 and life-history evolution of passerine birds

Jaanis Lodjak, Raivo Mänd, Marko Mägi How to grow, how to reproduce and how long to live? Organisms have been facing these vital questions throughout their evolutionary history, resulting in a diversity of ways that animals live their lives. Since the possible courses that the evolution of different traits can take is limited by various…

A hormone in feathers can detect elevated energy demands

David Johns, Tracy Marchant, Graham Fairhurst, John Speakman, and Robert Clark Animals must constantly balance their energy use to maintain physiological stability in the face of various daily challenges, ranging from the predictable (e.g., finding food) to unpredictable (e.g., enduring a storm, escaping a predator). The hormone corticosterone (or cortisol in humans) has a critical…

The treetop is the hotspot determining growth in larch trees

Angela Luisa Prendin, Giai Petit, Patrick Fonti, Christian Rixen, MelissaAutumn Dawes , Georg von Arx  Trees are long-lived organisms and continuously increase in size during life. As tree size increases, continuous structural adjustments help trees to meet changing functional needs. Wood tissue plays a critical role in these changes by providing adequate support for trees…

Maternal egg hormones in the mating context: the effect of pair personality

Suvi Ruuskanen, Ton G.G. Groothuis, Alexander T. Baugh, Sonja V. Schaper, Bonnie de Vries, Kees van Oers Across animal taxa from insects to mammals (also humans) individuals differ consistently in their behaviour. For example, some are always shyer and some are bolder when facing new situations. The origin of so called ‘personalities’ is partly genetic,…

Environmental conditions shape the chemical signal fingerprint of lizards

Simon Baeckens, José Martín, Roberto García-Roa, Panayiotis Pafilis, Katleen Huyghe & Raoul Van Damme   The vast array of signals used in animal communication is a hot topic in behavioural and evolutionary research. One important factor contributing to the signal diversity we witness today is ‘signal efficacy’: the ability of a signal to travel efficiently…