Distant volcanic eruptions foster saguaro cactus baby booms
Jul26

Distant volcanic eruptions foster saguaro cactus baby booms

One hundred and thirty years ago, the volcano Krakatoa erupted in what is now Indonesia, unleashing a cataclysm locally and years of cool temperatures and rain globally. On the far side of the world, a bumper crop of saguaro cacti were getting their start in life in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Many of the large exemplars of the famous cacti standing spiny and tall with arms akimbo in the Southwest today started their lives in the shadow of the 1883 eruption. Biogeographer Taly Drezner believes that distant volcanic paroxysms and the emergence of bountiful saguaro age-mate cohorts are connected. Volcanic climate perturbations that delivered disastrously cold and stormy weather to much of the Northern Hemisphere generated a combination of conditions in the Sonoran Desert that were just right for the delicate young cacti. Drezner will present her research on the first known example of regional population effects on a species from volcanic eruptions in distant parts of the world on 9 August 2016 at the 101st Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, gathering this year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “The saguaro is key to the survival of many species. Almost every animal in the Sonoran uses them in some way, as a nest site, or food, or a cool refuge,” said Drezner, a professor at York University in Ontario, who studies, among other things, how heat and aridity shape the community of life in the desert. Temperatures can easily exceed 40 C (104 F) every day for weeks in summer, when saguaro seedlings have just germinated. A keystone species of the Sonoran ecosystem and charismatic cultural emblem of the arid southwestern United States, the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) is sturdy in maturity but delicate in the early years of its life. Though mature individuals can top 12 meters (40 feet), new cacti grow only a few millimeters in the first year. Tiny young saguaros are susceptible to heat and cold, vulnerable to drying out or freezing in the extremes of their desert environment. For a critical two to three years, until they grow large enough to withstand cold and drought, they demand cool summers, mild winters, and sufficient rain: a combination of weather conditions at the outer edge of normal for the Sonoran in every dimension. A summer may be relatively cool, but too dry. A winter wet, but too cold. In most years, all the baby saguaros die. In the year after Krakatoa, summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere fell 1.2⁰C below average. The eruption violently disgorged tons of ash and sulfur dioxide gas into the stratosphere. Dust particles and sulfuric acid droplets rode winds through the upper...

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Asian tiger mosquito thrives in New York
Jul26

Asian tiger mosquito thrives in New York

The aggressive, day-biting Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, has spread with global trade from its native home in the tropics and subtropics of Southeast Asia. First observed in Houston, Texas, in 1987, it rapidly spread through the interstate system in the the United States. Its range is pushing northward into New York and Pennsylvania. Does Ae. albopictus crowd out other mosquito species? Katz surveyed the mosquito species present at sites in southern New York State and will report on her results at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America this August. PS 2-24 -The community assemblage of tree-hole mosquitoes in southern New York State Monday, August 8, 2016, ESA Exhibit Hall, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center Marly B. Katz, Fordham University, New York City, NY Browse more presentations about mosquito ecology at the 2016 Annual...

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Battle at the bloodmeal lek #ESA2016
Jul25

Battle at the bloodmeal lek #ESA2016

Invasive Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are the principal vectors of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses in the Americas. These species often find themselves in competition for mates and resources for their young. Cross-mating between the species creates infertile eggs and permanent sterilization of A. aegypti females. Lounibos and colleague Steven Juliano of Illinois State University described the causes and consequences of coexistence in south Florida. Lounibos will present their results in a session on Invasion: Species Interactions at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, in southern Florida. COS 84-1 -Where vectors collide: Effects of interspecific competition on worldwide niches of invasive Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus Thursday, August 11, 2016: 1:30 PM, room 209/210, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center L. Philip Lounibos, Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, University of Florida, Vero Beach, FL Browse more presentations about mosquito ecology at the 2016 Annual...

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Side effects of mosquito defense: broad spectrum insecticides kill the pollinators of rare native flowers
Jul22

Side effects of mosquito defense: broad spectrum insecticides kill the pollinators of rare native flowers

As an example of the costs of mosquito suppression, three imperiled native plants in the Lower Florida Keys suffer indirectly from the spraying of insecticides in housing developments flanking National Key Deer Refuge. Harris will present her work in a poster session on Conservation at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America in southern Florida this August. PS 11-27 -Pesticides and pollination of imperiled plants in the Lower Florida Keys Tuesday, August 9, 2016, ESA Exhibit Hall, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center Brittany Harris, Earth and Environment, Florida International University, Miami, FL Browse more presentations about mosquito ecology at the 2016 Annual...

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Invasive mosquito helps break the spread of a parasite
Jul21

Invasive mosquito helps break the spread of a parasite

Some species of mosquitoes spread dangerous human diseases. But mosquitoes have their own parasites, like the protozoan Ascogregarina barretti, which is related to the organisms that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis, and infects the native North American mosquito Aedes triseriatus. The invasive mosquito, Aedes japonicus, a recent arrival in North America, does not contract As. barretti. Will the presence of Ae. japonicus dilute the prevalence of the parasite in the native mosquito? Find out this August at Katie Westby’s talk during ESA’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. COS 6-6 -Interactive effects of species invasion and habitat quality on parasite prevalence: Evidence of a dilution effect Monday, August 8, 2016: 3:20 PM, room 124/125, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center Katie M. Westby, Tyson Research Center, Washington University in St. Louis, Eureka, MO Browse more presentations about mosquito ecology at the 2016 Annual...

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