Showing posts with label predator-prey relationships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label predator-prey relationships. Show all posts

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Squirrel-Rattlesnake Research Needs Funding


Money to fund serpent research is getting harder and harder to find.  Research grants are few and far between, but scientists are starting to get creative when it comes to bringing in the dough. A process called crowdfunding may be the new avenue of securing research money. Crowdfunding works by funding projects through many small donations solicited over the internet. Currently, 50 scientists from around the globe are participating in the #SciFund Challenge, a project that has brought them together to raise research money through crowdfunding on the RocketHub website - http://scifund.rockethub.com. One participating scientist, a Ph.D. student named Bree Putman, is looking to get people interested in snakes and why we should study them. She is studying the predator-prey interactions between rattlesnakes and ground squirrels in California. She has used creative techniques (check out her promotional video) to pique the interest of web surfers whom she hopes will fund her research.  Check out her creative way of raising money:  …and support her research as fellow snake lovers.  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Amphibians Prey for Epomis Beetles

New findings from Tel-Aviv University show that predator-prey interactions between ground beetles of the genus Epomis and amphibians are much more complex than expected. The study was published in the open access journal Zoo Keys.

"Amphibians are typical insect predators and their diet may include adult beetles, ground beetles in particular. The recently filmed successful attacks of the beetles on toads and frogs brought new insights on the amphibian-insect interactions, and documented the uncommon phenomenon of invertebrates preying on vertebrate animals," said the senior author Gil Wizen.

This image shows the predation of 
amphibians by an adult Epomis beetle. 
Photo credit: Gil Wisen
Previous research has shown that Epomis larvae feed exclusively on amphibians and that this food source is essential for completion of their life cycle, while the diet of the adult beetles consists of terrestrial invertebrates as well as dead vertebrates. Wizen and Gasith's current study shows that adult Epomis beetles can prey upon live amphibians, in addition to their regular diet.

According to the study, the genus Epomis is represented in Israel by two species: E. dejeani and E. circumscriptus. In the central coastal plain these species have similar distribution but do not occur in the same sites. The researchers recorded Epomis sharing shelter with amphibians during the day, but preying on them during the night. In the laboratory, predation behaviour of the adult beetles on five amphibian species was observed: the Green Toad (Bufo viridis), the Savignyi's Frog (Hyla savignyi), the Levant Green Frog (Rana bedriagae), the Banded Newt (Triturus vittatus), and the Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra infraimmaculata). These observations showed that the diet of the two Epomis species overlaps only partially, with only one of the species (E. dejeani) preying on the Banded Newt.

The results of this study serve as additional evidence that Epomis beetles, both larvae and adults, are specialized predators of amphibians. Moreover, these beetles prey upon several amphibian species.

To watch a video of one of these carib beetles preying on a green toad. Click Here