Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Discovered: A mammal and bug food co-op in the High Arctic

25.04.2013
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 species—an insect in its larval stage and a mammal—react 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 caterpillar–pika 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.

For a research photograph please contact Brian Murphy.

Brian Murphy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Decoding the genome's cryptic language
27.02.2017 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>