Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Are Novel Invaders Necessarily Facing Naïve Native Species on Islands?

Gérard, A., Jourdan, H., Millon, A., & Vidal, E. (2016). Knocking on Heaven's Door: Are Novel Invaders Necessarily Facing Naïve Native Species on Islands?. PloS one, 11(3), e0151545.

The impact of alien predator species on insular native biota has often been attributed to island prey naïveté (i.e. lack of, or inefficient, anti-predator behavior). Only rarely, however, has the concept of island prey naïveté been tested, and then only a posteriori (i.e. hundreds or thousands of years after alien species introduction). The presence of native or anciently introduced predators or competitors may be crucial for the recognition and development of adaptive behavior toward unknown predators or competitors of the same archetype (i.e. a set of species that occupy a similar ecological niche and show similar morphological and behavioral traits when interacting with other species).
Here, we tested whether two squamates endemic to New Caledonia, a skink, Caledoniscincus austrocaledonicus, and a gecko, Bavayia septuiclavis, recognized and responded to the odor of two major invaders introduced into the Pacific islands, but not yet into New Caledonia. We chose one predator, the small Indian mongoose Herpestes javanicus and one competitor, the cane toad Rhinella marina, which belong respectively to the same archetype as the following two species already introduced into New Caledonia in the nineteenth century: the feral cat Felis catus and the golden bell frog Litoria aurea. Our experiment reveals that geckos are naïve with respect to the odors of both an unknown predator and an unknown competitor, as well as to the odors of a predator and a competitor they have lived with for centuries. In contrast, skinks seem to have lost some naïveté regarding the odor of a predator they have lived with for centuries and seem “predisposed” to avoid the odor of an unknown potential competitor. These results indicate that insular species living in contact with invasive alien species for centuries may be, although not systematically, predisposed toward developing adaptive behavior with respect to species belonging to the same archetype and introduced into their native range.

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