Navigation Links
Discovered: A mammal and bug food co-op in the High Arctic
Date:4/24/2013

University of Alberta researchers were certainly surprised when they discovered the unusual response of pikas to patches of vegetation that had previously been grazed on by caterpillars from a species normally found in the high Arctic.

U of A biology researcher Isabel C. Barrio analyzed how two herbivores, caterpillars and pikas, competed for scarce vegetation in alpine areas of the southwest Yukon. The caterpillars come out of their winter cocoons and start consuming vegetation soon after the snow melts in June. Weeks later, the pika starts gathering and storing food in its winter den. For the experiment, Barrio altered the numbers of caterpillars grazing on small plots of land surrounding pika dens.

"What we found was that the pikas preferred the patches first grazed on by caterpillars," said Barrio. "We think the caterpillar's waste acted as a natural fertilizer, making the vegetation richer and more attractive to the pika."

U of A biology professor David Hik, who supervised the research, says the results are the opposite of what the team expected to find.

"Normally you'd expect that increased grazing by the caterpillars would have a negative effect on the pika," said Hik. "But the very territorial little pika actually preferred the vegetation first consumed by the caterpillars."

The researchers say it's highly unusual that two distant herbivore speciesan insect in its larval stage and a mammalreact positively to one another when it comes to the all-consuming survival issue of finding food.

These caterpillars stay in their crawling larval stage for up to 14 years, sheltering in a cocoon during the long winters before finally becoming Arctic woolly bear moths for the final 24 hours of their lives.

The pika does not hibernate and gathers a food supply in its den. Its food-gathering territory surrounds the den and covers an area of around 700 square metres.

The researchers say they'll continue their work on the caterpillarpika relationship to explore the long-term implications for increased insect populations and competition for scarce food resources in northern mountain environments.

Barrio was the lead author on the collaborative research project, which was published April 24 in the journal Biology Letters.


'/>"/>

Contact: Brian Murphy
brian.murphy@ualberta.ca
780-492-6041
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New bird flu strain seen adapting to mammals, humans
2. Sea mammals find US safe harbor
3. Mutation altering stability of surface molecule in acid enables H5N1 infection of mammals
4. FASEB SRC announces conference registration open for: Mobile DNA in Mammalian Genomes
5. Paradise found for Latin Americas largest land mammal
6. Will changes in climate wipe out mammals in Arctic and sub-Arctic areas?
7. Nursing gerbils unravel benefit of multiple mothers in collective mammals
8. Rare form of active jumping genes found in mammals
9. Nutrient-sensing enzymes key to starvation response and survival in newborn mammals
10. Disaster map predicts bleak future for mammals
11. Rubbing boulders, fossil mammal teeth, barrier islands, and a change in volcanic behavior
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/19/2017)... , April 19, 2017 ... its vendor landscape is marked by the presence of ... is however held by five major players - 3M ... these companies accounted for nearly 61% of the global ... leading companies in the global military biometrics market boast ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized leader ... today announced that it has been awarded a ... Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack Detection ... "Innovation has been a driving force within Crossmatch ... allow us to innovate and develop new technologies ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 5, 2017  The Allen Institute for ... Cell Explorer: a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window ... imaging data, the first application of deep learning to ... stem cell lines and a growing suite of powerful ... for these and future publicly available resources created and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... Corista, a ... and artificial intelligence Tuesday, July 25, during the Association of Pathology Chairs’ Jubilee ... Medicine. , Baras, Associate Director of Pathology Informatics, will present “The Digital ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... ... Sourcing custom glass or quartz parts can be a daunting task. Finding ... your job can take many hours of emails, phone calls and on-line research. Wilmad-LabGlass’ ... the company’s capabilities and core custom categories, and enables you to start the quoting ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... Fairfield, NJ (PRWEB) , ... July 18, 2017 ... ... in corporate finance technology, DataForm Software ( https://dataformsoftware.com ) announces the migration of ... – to Microsoft Azure. Planet is a team-centric, enterprise work management system that ...
(Date:7/17/2017)... ... July 17, 2017 , ... Neurodevelopmental ... wide range of overlapping clinical features. The advancement of targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) ... NDD research and testing. , However, designing a custom panel for disease ...
Breaking Biology Technology: