We studied the seasonal population dynamics of Xylosandrus compactus on Coffea canephora for 24 months from June 2013 to May 2015 at the National Coffee Research Institute, Mukono, Uganda. Every month, we randomly sampled 20 infested twigs from different coffee trees on each of three experimental blocks, and dissected them to count different stages of X. compactus per twig. We recorded monthly mean temperature and total rainfall. Seasonal fluctuations in numbers of different life stages of X. compactus inside C. canephora twigs over time were analysed with a general linear model. Ambient temperature and rainfall were used to predict changes in monthly mean counts by means of a multiple linear regression. The population of X. compactus varied significantly across months and its major peak occurred from May to August. This variability was poorly explained by prevailing weather conditions with only the number of dead females correlated negatively with mean monthly temperature. Therefore, it may be suitable to apply management interventions against X. compactus on C. canephora in Uganda prior to May-August of each year to prevent the pest from attaining damaging levels. Further research is necessary to better understand the effect of weather variables on population dynamics of this insect pest.
An unusual tissue covering the tongue and occasionally part of the gill chamber of many species of the Indo-Pacific cardinalfish genus Siphamia is described and compared with an earlier description of a similar tissue found in the cichlid species Alcolapia grahami inhabiting lakes of the African Rift Valley. Species of both genera are mouth brooders. The Siphamia tissue is globular and its cells are oblong, whereas the A. grahami tissue is single-layered, with larger, columnar cells. The tissues of both have the characteristics of a mucosa and show evidence of active synthesis. While ion regulation has been proposed for the A. grahami tissue, the function of the Siphamia tissue is unknown, but a role in feeding, or antibiotic or appetite-suppressing functions have been suggested.
The primate fauna of South Africa has historically been viewed as comprising three diurnal cercopithecoid taxa - chacma baboons (Papio ursinus), vervet (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) and samango monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis) - and two nocturnal lorisoid species - the thick-tailed greater galago (Otolemur crassicaudatus) and the southern lesser galago (Galago moholi). Here we report the positive identification of a third galago species within South Africa's borders: the Mozambique dwarf galago or Grant's galago, Galagoides granti (Thomas and Wroughton, 1907). The taxon was previously held to be restricted to Mozambique, eastern Zimbabwe, Malawi and Tanzania, but we have also observed it in the sand forest of Tembe Elephant Park and the Tshanini Community Reserve, near the Mozambique border. The species was formerly mistaken for Galago moholi, erroneously (we believe) extending the range of the latter species into northern KwaZulu-Natal. In South Africa the two small galagos are unlikely to have overlapping ranges: Galago moholi prefers dry savanna woodlands, whereas Galagoides granti is apparently confined to dry sand forest. However, both species may coexist with the larger and more widespread Otolemur crassicaudatus, an inhabitant of moist savanna, forest edge and thicket. The true South African ranges of both small galago species need to be ascertained.
In Tunisia both Psammomys obesus and P. vexillaris are found. These taxa have been the subject of taxonomic controversy for some time, due to variability in the classical morphological characters used for taxonomic recognition. In this study we investigated skull size and shape variation in the genus Psammomys by using geometric morphometrics to evaluate the extent of intra- and interspecific shape variation and explicitly tested for the impact of allometric shape variation on species discrimination. Eleven populations of the two species from 10 localities in Tunisia were studied. Statistical analyses of size and shape showed large size variation within P. obesus, but no shape differences were revealed among populations of this species. Interspecific analysis revealed that P. vexillaris had the smallest skull. Principal component analysis and Procrustes distances showed good discrimination between the two species after removal of the allometric component of shape variation. The results obtained show that allometric-related shape variation could mask discrimination between the two Psammomys species. This finding might explain the uncertainty in classification of these species in the past. The interspecific allometric-free phenotypic differences observed may be associated with adaptive processes linked to the different environmental and trophic preferences of the two species.
In the Upper Zambezi and Okavango ecoregions, Brycinus lateralis, Hepsetus cuvieri, Schilbe intermedius and Serranochromis macrocephalus are important in subsistence fisheries, while S. intermedius and S. macrocephalus are often caught in commercial catches. Despite their importance, there is little information on their age and growth and age validation. Growth zone deposition rate in otoliths of B. lateralis, H. cuvieri, S. intermedius and S. macrocephalus was validated as annual using edge analysis in this study. Annual deposition of growth zones was corroborated by a fluorochrome marking experiment. Both methods demonstrated that one growth zone was deposited annually. Edge analysis demonstrated that the highest proportion of opaque zones was detected between August and December, most likely as a result of slow growth during lower temperature water during the preceding winter. With growth zone deposition validated as annual, future research should focus on determining the growth, maturity and mortality rates of these species, parameters which are important for their management.
Nestmate recognition in ants is based on cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), which are heritable and may also be acquired from the environment (i.e. diet and nest environment). In Argentine ants (Linepithema humile), diet and a homogenous environment have been shown to affect nestmate recognition by altering the CHC profile and consequently intraspecific aggression. In our study, Argentine ants were collected from field nests representing two supercolonies in South Africa. Individuals were paired in aggression assays and their CHC profiles analysed. The same nests used in the aggression assays were maintained in the laboratory for five months on a shared diet of crickets and sugar water, in soil-free nests. We predicted that aggression between previously aggressive paired individuals from different nests would decrease over time through the homogenisation of CHCs as a consequence of the shared diet and similar nesting environment. Our data showed that ants maintained in the laboratory readily absorbed prey-derived hydrocarbons and experienced a loss in the number of cuticular compounds compared with their original CHC profiles. However, the changes in CHCs did not impair nestmate recognition with non-aggressive paired interactions maintained while previously aggressive paired interactions persisted. The persistence of aggression between previously aggressive pairs despite environmental homogeneity supports the notion that intrinsic nestmate recognition cues are not overridden by extrinsic cues in the recognition system of Argentine ants.