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

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
University of Alberta

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:
(Date:5/16/2017)... DALLAS , May 16, 2017   ... for health organizations, and MD EMR Systems ... certified development partner for GE, have established a ... Patient Portal product and the GE Centricity™ products, ... Centricity EMR. These new integrations ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... 2017 The global military biometrics ... marked by the presence of several large global players. ... five major players - 3M Cogent, NEC Corporation, M2SYS ... nearly 61% of the global military biometric market in ... global military biometrics market boast global presence, which has ...
(Date:4/13/2017)... , April 13, 2017 UBM,s Advanced ... will feature emerging and evolving technology through ... Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo portion of ... sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending topics within ... advanced design and manufacturing event will take place June ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... a United States multicenter, prospective clinical study that demonstrates the accuracy of ... capable of identifying clinically significant acute bacterial and viral respiratory tract infections ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... partners with the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to improve patient outcomes and quality ... Several trends in analytical testing are being attributed to new regulatory requirements for ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... At ... Purple announced Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief research scientist ... has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame . ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Personal eye wash is a basic first aid supply ... a time. So which eye do you rinse first if a dangerous substance enters both ... Duo Eye Wash with its unique dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: