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Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 23(3), 305-308 ARTICLE September 2015 Associations between birds and social wasps in the Pantanal wetlands 1,3 2 Sara Miranda Almeida and Evandson José dos Anjos-Silva a a Programa de Pós-Graduação em Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Pará – UFPA, Rua Augusto Corrêa, Guamá, CEP 66075110, Belém, PA, Brazil. Laboratório de Abelhas e Vespas Neotropicais, Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, Departamento de Biologia. Av. Tancredo Neves s/n, Cavalhada, CEP 78200-000, Cáceres, MT, Brazil. Corresponding author: email@example.com Received on 17 March 2015. Accepted on 30 June 2015. ABSTRACT: Nesting associations between birds and wasps may increase reproductive success of birds because the stings of these insects serve to protect the offspring against predators. The predation of wasps by birds is known from elsewhere and usually birds feed on the wasps during fl ight. Here we report on nest associations between birds and social wasps and comments on wasp nest predation by birds in the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands. Th e study was conducted in the sub-region known as “Pantanal de Poconé”, state of Mato Grosso, Brazil. We recorded seven associations involving four bird species: Paroaria capitata, Myiozetetes similis, M M M. cayannensis s and Columbina talpacoti, and four wasp species: Polybia sericea, P. rufi ceps xanthops, Chartergus globiventris s and Parachartergus fraternus. One successful nest of M. cayannensis s (14.2%) was associated to P. sericea a wasps. On the other hand, 42.8% of the bird nests were abandoned, and 42.8% were preyed upon. Additionally, a direct event of wasp nest predation was recorded, in which a group of Melanerpes candidus s attacked a nest of P. ruficeps xanthop s. Other ten wasp nests were found with marks of predation made by birds. Th ese were nests of Synoeca surinama a (n = 2), P. chrysothorax (n = 2), P. ruficeps xanthops s (n = 3), P. sericea (n = 2) and P. jurinei i (n = 1), suggesting that social wasps may constitute an additional element in the diet of insectivorous birds. We concluded that: 1) associations with wasps did not prevent predation of bird nests against the variety of predators in the region, and 2) the predation of social wasps by birds can contribute to population control of these social insects in the Pantanal. Further studies may shed additional light on this bird-wasp relationship. KE E EY Y Y-WORDS: Animal behavior, bird nests, bird-wasp interactions, wasp colonies. 1939, Gibo 1978, Raw 1997, Sick 1997) is considered a INTRODUCTION rare event in the neotropics. Birds generally feed on wasps during fli ght and there are few reports of attacks on wasp Nest predation is usually the main cause of reproductive nests (Gibo 1978, Henriques & Palma 1998). failure in birds (Ricklefs 1969; Oniki 1979, Lopes & Here we describe the nesting associations between Marini 2005). One of the strategies used by birds to birds and social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in a minimize or avoid predation is the construction of nests North Pantanal region and present our observations on near colonies of ants, wasps and bees (Hymenoptera) social wasp nest predation by birds to advance further the (Haemig 2001). The social hymenopterans more knowledge on the ecology of interactions between birds commonly seen in association with birds are wasps, and social insects. Vespidae (Hansell 2000). Th e swarming behavior and the painful stings of wasps protect the birds’ offsprin g against predators (Dejean & Fotso 1995, Brightsmith 2000, METHODS Beier &Tungbani 2006, Bologna a et al. 2007). However, the effectiveness of nest defense is variable amon g wasp Th e Pantanal is the largest seasonally fl ooded wetland species (Richards 1978, Hansell 2000). area of the planet and it is located in the center of South In the Neotropical region, the association between America, covering parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay nesting birds and social wasps is prominent for species of and Argentina. In Brazil, it is present in the states of Cacicus s (Icteridae), for which the association with wasps is Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul (Silva & Abdon regarded as an adaptation to avoid nest predation (Feekes 1998). Th is study was conducted in Retiro Novo Farm 1981, Robinson 1985, Sick 1997, Somavilla et al. 2013). (16°15'12"S, 56°22'12"W), located in the municipality On the other hand, wasp predation by birds (Sutton Associations between birds and social wasps in the Pantanal wetlands Sara Miranda Almeida and Evandson José dos Anjos-Silva of Poconé, state of Mato Grosso, Brazil. From 25 August only seven nesting associations involving four bird species 2011 to 11 April 2012, the vegetation was searched for and four species of wasps (Table 1). Polybia a was the most a total of 1,024 hours of sampling eff ort in order to seek frequent wasp genus in the seven associations (71.4%). bird nests (according to Martin & Geupel 1993) in a Bird nests were on average 0.5 ± 0.4 m distant mosaic covering the forest formations locally known (max = 1.0 m; min = 0.1 m) from wasp nests, and the as “cambarazal”, “landizal” and “pombeiral”, and in associations were recorded in cambarazal edges (n = natural grasslands (see Nunes da Cunha et al. 2010). 5) and in natural grasslands (n = 2). Considering bird After locating bird nests, we recorded the occurrence of nests associated with wasps, only one nest (14.2%), wasp nests in the same plant. Here, we considered an belonging to Myiozetetes cayannensis s associated to Polybia association when both nests were located in the same tree sericea, was successful. The loss of brood was caused b y and having between them a distance shorter than 1 m (see nest abandonment (42.8%) when they were still under Wunderle & Pollock 1985). The distance between the construction, and predation (42.8%) (Table 1). bird and wasp nests and the height of the nests from the In all cases reported here (n = 7), the wasp nests ground was obtained with a measurement tape. A sample were positioned above the bird nests, which were on of wasp individuals was collected using an insect net. average 2.2 ± 1.6 m from the soil (max = 5.9 m; min = The voucher s pecimens were deposited in the collections 1.1 m), while the wasp nests were on average 2.9 ± 2.0 of the Museum of Zoology, Universidade Estadual de m from the soil (max = 6.2 m; min = 1.6 m). In six of the Feira de Santana (MZFS), Feira de Santana, Bahia, and seven associations, the wasp nests were well developed, Zoological Collection of Universidade do Estado de showing a selection by the birds to nest close to social Mato Grosso (CZUNE), Cáceres, Mato Grosso. Bird wasp colonies. nests were monitored through brief visits with three-day In the second half of October 2011, we found two regular intervals in order to minimize nest disruption. nesting association attempts made by M. cayannensis Each nest was accompanied until reproductive success, with Chartergus globiventris s and Parachartergus fraternus predation or even desertion (Lopes & Marini 2005, Duca simultaneously on the same tree. In the fi rst attempt, the & Marini 2008). We considered as successful a bird’s nest bird was building the nest at about 0.1 m from a nest in which at least one nestling left the nest. Predated nests of P. fraternus s and 1.9 m from a nest of C. globiventris. were those recorded with contents missing during the However, the bird nest was abandoned for unknown monitoring interval (i.e., eggs or nestlings). causes. Ten days later, the bird started building another nest and at similar distances (about 1 m) between the two wasp nests. However, the nest was again abandoned. RESULTS It is likely that the birds were attacked by wasps when they build their nests close to the wasp nests. Th is might We recorded a total of 155 active nests belonging to 37 have occurred because during the construction of the species of birds, and 308 nests belonging to 14 social nests the wasps were not approachable. For Myiozetetes, wasp species (Almeida et al. 2014). However, we found there are association records to Chartergus s (Sick 1997). TABLE 1: Species of birds and social wasps in nesting associations at Retiro Novo Farm, Pantanal de Poconé, state of Mato Grosso, from August 2011 to April 2012. DN (m): Distance in meters (m) between the nest of the bird and the nest of the wasp; HA (m): Height of bird nests from the ground; HV (m): Height of wasp nests from the ground; Nest fate: AB = abandoned; PR = preyed upon; SU = successful. Asterisk (*) indicates the nest associated with two wasp colonies. DN HA HV Bird species Wasp species Nest plant support Nest fate (m) (m) (m) Paroaria capitata Polybia sericea 1.0 1.6 1.8 Bactris glaucescens PR Myiozetetes similis* Chartergus globiventris 1.0 6.2 5.9 Vochysia divergens Parachartergus fraternus 1.0 6.1 AB Myiozetetes cayannensis Polybia ruficep s xanthops 0.1 1.9 1.9 Licania parvifolia AB Myiozetetes cayannensis Parachartergus fraternus 0.2 1.4 1.8 Erythroxylum anguifugum AB Myiozetetes cayannensis Polybia sericea 0.4 2.1 2.1 Cissus spinosa SU Myiozetetes cayannensis Polybia sericea 0.1 1.6 1.8 Vochysia divergens PR Columbina talpacoti Polybia rufi ceps xanthops 0.5 1.1 1.6 Vochysia divergens PR Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 23(3), 2015 Associations between birds and social wasps in the Pantanal wetlands Sara Miranda Almeida and Evandson José dos Anjos-Silva In the present study, we recorded the association of M M M. had a greater reproductive success than non-associated similis s with C C C. globiventris and Parachartergus fraternus; wasps (Joyce 1993). In this latter case, the most important as well as of M. cayannensis with P. rufi ceps xanthops, P. predator was the monkey Cebus capucinus s (Cebidae). fraternus and P. sericea. In the 2009 breeding season, The reduced number of bird s pecies found in at the same area of this study, a nest of Crotophaga ani association with wasps in the present study corroborates (Cuculidae) was observed in association with wasps the data presented by Hansell (2000), who stated that (M. M. Evangelista, pers. comm.), as well as a nest of this is a rare event. In addition, we suggest that social Sporophila collaris s (Thraupidae) and one o f Arundinicola wasps could not provide the necessary protection against leucocephala a (Tyrannidae) during the breeding season of the variety of nest predators in the Pantanal wetlands. 2010 (D. Grangero, pers. comm.). The use of social wasps by White Woodpecker We observed predation of wasp nests by the as food was previously recorded in the Paraná River White Woodpecker Melanerpes candidus s (Picidae) on floodplain, Argentina, where the diet of this bird was a nest of P. ruficeps xanthop s. On 26 January 2012, at basically composed of ants ( ( (Acromyrmex x spp.) and wasps 14:03, seven individuals of this woodpecker attacked a (Polybia scutellaris s s) (Patterer et alll. 2003). Predation on nest located 1.5 m above the water surface amidst the a Polybia paulista a nest by M M M. candidus s was recorded by leaves of Ludwigia a sp. (Onagraceae). While one White Sazima (2014), who pointed out that this bird employed Woodpecker was feeding on larvae in the nest, the others a subtle tactic that minimized and latter prevented wasp birds were vocalizing perched about 10 m from the nest. attacks. Although this species of woodpecker is well Each individual remained for about two minutes in the known for attacking wasp nests (Sick 1997), our study nest, and after the attack of the birds, we found the wasp presents new information about social wasp species nest partially destroyed with part of larvae left. On the preyed by M. candidus. same day, at 14:40 h, one M. candidus, possibly from the It seems that a great number of bird species are not same fl ock, attacked a nest of P. sericea a located about 40 adapted to withstand numerous stings during an attack on m from the preyed nest of P. rufi ceps xanthops. However, a wasp nest (Raw 1997). However, there are also records the attacks were discontinued. On 5 April 2012, another indicating that birds are the main predators of wasp nests nest of P. sericea a on the edge of a cambarazal was preyed (Strassmann 1981). In the present study, nevertheless, we upon by M M M. candidus. We also observed that nests of noted that birds, especially M. candidus, prey upon nests Synoeca surinama a (n = 2), P. chrysothorax x (n = 2), P. rufi ceps of very aggressive wasps such as Polybia sericea. xanthops s (n = 3), P. sericea a (n = 2) and P. jurinei i (n = 1) Social wasp nests were recorded profusely in our had predation marks (pecking) made by birds. studied area (n = 308) (Almeida et alll. 2014). Thus, wasps may be an additional element in the diet of insectivorous birds, especially woodpeckers (Picidae), which feed mainly on hymenopterans (Sick 1997). In addition, predation DISCUSSION of social wasps by birds can play an important role in population dynamics of this insect group, contributing to Nesting associations between birds and social wasps population control (Henriques & Palma 1998). are not due to chance and there are evidences that the birds select their nesting sites near wasp nests (Dejean & Fotso 1995). Recent records of associations between bird ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS nests and wasp colonies in Brazil indicate that the bird and wasp species involved in this relationship are varied To FAPEMAT for the fi nancial support (Proc. and species-rich (Cazal et al. 2009, Somavilla et alll. 2013, 737955/2008; 285060/2010). To CAPES (Coordination Menezes et al. 2014, Sazima & D’Angelo 2015, present for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel) for paper). Further studies may shed additional light on this granting of the Social Demand scholarship to S.M.A. To bird-wasp relationship and its ecological importance. Prof. Dr. Sérgio Ricardo Andena, for the identification of Despite our low sample size of bird nests associated social wasps. with wasps, we can conclude that associations with wasps did not prevent predation of bird nests, and this may be related to the variety of predators in the region (Pinho REFERENCES 2005), such as birds (Clark et al. 1983), mammals (Wray & Whitmore 1979) and snakes (Oniki 1979, Navarro Almeida, S. M.; Andena, S. R. & Anjos-Silva, E. J. (2014). Diversity et al. 1992), which explored diff erent environments and of the nests of social wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Polistinae) in layers of vegetation, besides having different predation the Northern Pantanal, Brazil. Sociobiology, 61: 107-114. strategies. In Costa Rica, nests of Campylorhynchus Beier, P. & Tungbani, A. I. T. (2006). Nesting with wasps increases nest success of the red-cheeked cordon-bleu in Ghana. Auk, 123: rufinuchaa (Troglodytidae) associated with Polybia rejecta 1022-1037. 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Ornithology Research – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2015
Keywords: Animal behavior; bird nests; bird-wasp interactions; wasp colonies
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