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The Sovi Basin is a site within the Pacific-Asia Biodiversity Transect (PABITRA) network. It is located in Naitasiri Province, Viti Levu, and represents the largest area of undisturbed lowland forest within the Fiji Islands. It is considered to be one of the most biologically diverse areas within the Polynesia-Micronesia biodiversity hot spot. Four intensive surveys conducted between 2003 and 2015 assessed vertebrate fauna within the Sovi Basin. The study confirmed the biological importance of the site when compared with other locations within Fiji: 85%, 50%, 39%, and 38% of the Viti Levu fauna of birds, mammals, herpetofauna, and ichthyofauna were recorded during the surveys, respectively. In addition to the rich native and endemic fauna, invasive species were recorded (mongoose, feral pigs, black rats, red-vented bulbuls, tilapia, and cane toads), the impact of which is completely unknown. Further monitoring and possible management of these invasive species is needed to ensure that the Sovi Basin is appropriately managed for nature conservation. In addition, emerging threats such as a proposed mining scheme and agricultural activities are discussed in relation to the ecological integrity of the site for conservation purposes.
We investigated the cause of extraordinarily small body mass in Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) living in the Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands in the subtropical climate zone in Japan. We compared body masses of Norway rats living in four localities, the Hahajima group of the Ogasawara Islands, uninhabited islands in Hokkaido in the subarctic climate zone, a business district in Yokohama, and an artificial islet in Tokyo Bay in the temperate climate zone. Regressions of body mass and age (in months; estimated from lens weight) showed that weights of Norway rats on the Hahajima Islands were about half the weights of rats in the other three localities. Crown length of the maxillary molar row was similar in three localities ( Hahajima, Hokkaido, and Yokohama), and both the head — body length and the tail length were similar in Hahajima and Hokkaido, suggesting that the low body mass of the Hahajima rats was due to environmental factors rather than genetic factors. Stomach contents of Norway rats on the Hahajima Islands were predominantly (95.2% by vol.) plant matter, which is not the usual food preference for the species. We hypothesize that a low-protein diet restricts body mass of Norway rats on the Ogasawara Islands.
In the western Pacific, green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles are listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Population data are limited for both species throughout the entire region and particularly in the Philippine Sea. This study characterizes size class distribution, growth rates, habitat use, behavior, diet, and site fidelity of foraging aggregations of green and hawksbill turtles in nearshore habitats of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Between August 2006 and February 2014, we captured 642 turtles (493 green and 36 hawksbill turtles). Straight carapace length (SCL) ranged from 32.5 to 91.6 cm, with juveniles composing the majority of captures (mean SCL = 50.7 cm). Four of the green turtles were adults (SCL ≥⃒ 81 cm), with SCLs of 84.2 to 91.6 cm. All 36 hawksbill turtles were juveniles (SCL < 78.6 cm). Most captures occurred in coral habitats where turtles were foraging and resting. Diet samples from 47 green turtles included Amansia sp., Gelidiella sp., Hypnea sp., and Ceramium sp. Green turtle growth rates ranged from 0.3 to 7.8 cm yr-1. Estimated mean residency time was 17 yr. This is the first study within the CNMI to report on morphometric data and diet composition of marine turtles. These results provide an assessment of green and hawksbill turtle population demographics and habitat use in the CNMI.
Amount and diversity of bird-dispersed seed rain play important roles in determining forest composition, yet neither is easy to quantify. The complex ecological processes that influence seed movement make the best approach highly context specific. Although recent advances in seed rain theory emphasize quantifying source-specific seed shadows, many ecological questions can be addressed u sing a less mechanistic approach that requires fewer assumptions. Using seed rain rates from 0.38 m2 hoop traps sampled twice monthly over the course of a year, we show that number of traps required to identify changes in seed rain varies across seed species and forest type. Detecting a 50% increase in amount of seed rain required from 65 to >300 traps, while detecting a 200% increase generally required ≤⃒50 traps. Trap size and ecological context dictate the number of seeds found in each trap, but the coefficient of variation (CV) across traps in a given ecological context can help inform future studies about number of traps needed to detect change. To better understand factors influencing variation around estimates of seed rain, we simulated both clustered and evenly distributed patterns of fecal deposition using three different levels of seed aggregation (number of seeds in each fecal deposit). When patterns of fecal deposition were clustered, rather than evenly dispersed across the study area, they required >1.5 times the number of traps to identify a 100% increase in seed rain. Similarly, we found that low seed aggregation required >1.5 times the number of traps to detect a 100% change than when aggregation was medium or high. At low aggregations, fewer seed rain traps contained seeds (low, 33 ± 5%; medium, 23 ± 4%; high, 24 ± 5%), resulting in more variation across traps than medium and high aggregations. We also illustrate the importance of training observers to discern between morphologically similar seeds from different species and provide resources to help identify bird-dispersed seeds commonly found within midelevation mesic Hawaiian forests.
Hydrographic, hydroacoustic, and cetacean visual surveys were conducted using a quantitative echosounder to estimate environmental factors influencing migration timing and distribution of Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) in the Tsugaru Strait (nonbreeding area) and Funka Bay (breeding area) near Hokkaido, Japan. Higher numbers of dolphins were observed in the Tsugaru Strait during May and June and in Funka Bay during June, July, and August. Potential prey were observed in the Tsugaru Strait in May, June, and August, but they may not have been of a suitable size in August, which may explain absence of the dolphins in that month. In Funka Bay, potential prey were abundant in May, but dolphins may have been absent because of small prey size and low water temperature. In a smaller-scale analysis, the relationship between dolphins and prey was different in the two areas, with dolphin distribution more closely associated with prey distribution in the Funka Bay breeding area. This difference may have resulted from mothers needing to feed more frequently during lactation. These data should serve as an important foundation for estimating environmental factors impacting small cetaceans around Japan as well as changing environmental factors during the cetacean life cycle.
In the Northern Hemisphere several studies have used historic herbarium specimens to examine change in stomatal density over time as related to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration. In this study we compared stomatal density of leaves of the New Zealand endemic tree Corynocarpus laevigatus (karaka), collected by Banks and Solander on Cook's first voyage to the South Pacific in 1769–1770, with nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century material of the same species. Historical eighteenth- and nineteenth-century herbarium specimens were found to have a significantly higher stomatal density than that seen in twentieth- and twenty-first-century material. Our data are consistent with there being a relationship between stomatal density in leaves of C. laevigatus and atmospheric CO2 concentration over time. To date it is unclear whether other New Zealand native tree species show a similar relationship.
Five species of stalked crinoids collected at depths from 1,693 to 4,135 m off the California coast, chiefly on seamounts, are described. Four were photographed in situ and collected during Monterey Bay Aquarium and Research Institute cruises using ROV Tiburon. Four specimens with intact crowns are attributed to Bathycrinus equatorialisA. H. Clark, 1908a, previously known from a single stalk with basal ring collected in the central eastern Pacific. Parahyocrinus claguei Roux, n. gen., n. sp., here described from a growth series of six specimens, is closely related to Hyocrinus biscoitoiRoux, 2004 (herein transferred to Parahyocrinus Roux, n. gen.), from the East Pacific Rise, but differs in features of the tegmen, pinnules, and stalk articulations. The single, finely ornamented specimen of Tiburonicrinus ornatus Roux, n. gen., n. sp., displays an original arrangement of characters suggesting affinities with Thalassocrinus alvinae from the Gorda Ridge. Gephyrocrinus messingiRoux & Lambert, 2011, known from off British Columbia and California, is transferred as type species to Lamberticrinus Roux, n. gen., after a reexamination of its pinnule architecture. Specimens of the fifth species, Bathycrinus complanatusA. H. Clark, 1908b, were trawled off California by R/V New Horizon.
Five species of toads (Bufonidae) (n = 22) from Peninsular Malaysia were examined for helminths: Duttaphrynus melanostictus, Ingerophrynus parvus, Leptophryne borbonica, Phrynoidis asper, and Rentapia hosii. The helminth community contained 10 species of Nematoda, consisting of mature individuals of Abbreviata bufonis, Aplectana macintoshii, Cosmocerca ornata, Falcaustra pahangi, Meteterakis singaporensis, Oswaldocruzia filiformis, Oswaldocruzia hoepplii, Seuratascaris numidica, and larvae assigned to Ascarididae and Physalopteridae. Nematoda reported in this study are mainly Old World in distribution. Bufonid species from Peninsular Malaysia are infected by generalist nematodes that also infect other anurans. Seven new host records are reported.
Forty spiny dogfish, Squalus suckleyi, captured in eastern Puget Sound, Washington, were examined for gill parasites, left side only. Nine sharks (22.5%) were found to be without parasites. Frequency of infection for all gill lamellae parasites was relatively equal between males (75%) and females (78.6%). Twenty sharks were infected with the parasitic copepod Eudactylina acanthii, which previously was restricted to S. acanthias and S. mitsukurii. Among the 28 female sharks examined, 60.7% (n = 17) were infected with this copepod compared with 25% (n = 3) of the 12 males. Among sharks infected with worms and copepods, female sharks were twice as likely (77.3%) to be infected with copepods than males (33%). During examination of host sharks, adult philometrid nematodes Phlyctainophora lamnae were found in gill lamellae of one female shark and among larval encasements in caudal peduncle lesions of another female spiny dogfish, and these lesions are documented here with photographs for scientific interest.