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Stephanie Y Chin, William A Hopkins, Daniel A Cristol
Mercury is an environmental contaminant that impairs avian reproduction, but the behavioral and physiological mechanisms underlying this effect are poorly understood. The objective of this study was to determine whether lifetime dietary exposure to mercury (1.2 µg/g wet weight in food) impacted avian parental behaviors, and how this might influence reproductive success. To distinguish between the direct effects of mercury on parents and offspring, we created four treatment groups of captive-bred zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), with control and mercury-exposed adults raising cross-fostered control or mercury-exposed eggs (from maternal transfer)...
October 11, 2017: Ecotoxicology
Vanessa Lee, Benjamin A Pawlisch, Matheus Macedo-Lima, Luke Remage-Healey
Norepinephrine (NE) can dynamically modulate excitability and functional connectivity of neural circuits in response to changes in external and internal states. Regulation by NE has been demonstrated extensively in mammalian sensory cortices, but whether NE-dependent modulation in sensory cortex alters response properties in downstream sensorimotor regions is less clear. Here, we examine this question in male zebra finches, a songbird species with complex vocalizations and a well-defined neural network for auditory processing of those vocalizations...
October 11, 2017: Journal of Neurophysiology
Hector Fabio Rivera-Gutierrez, Tine Martens, Rianne Pinxten, Marcel Eens
Individuals from different taxa, including songbirds, differ consistently in behaviour and personality when facing different situations. Although our understanding of animal behaviour has increased, knowledge about between-individual differences in cognitive abilities is still limited. By using an experimental approach and a free-living songbird (Parus major) as a model, we attempted to understand between-individual differences in habituation to playbacks (as a proxy of learning speed), by investigating the role of personality, age and reproductive investment (clutch size)...
2017: PloS One
Maki Ikebuchi, Kazuo Okanoya, Toshikazu Hasegawa, Hans-Joachim Bischof
The mode of hatching in birds has important impacts on both parents and chicks, including the costs and risks of breeding for parents, and sibling competition in a clutch. Birds with multiple eggs in a single clutch often begin incubating when most eggs are laid, thereby reducing time of incubation, nursing burden, and sibling competition. In some songbirds and some other species, however, incubation starts immediately after the first egg is laid, and the chicks thus hatch asynchronously. This may result in differences in parental care and in sibling competition based on body size differences among older and younger chicks, which in turn might produce asynchronous development among siblings favoring the first hatchling, and further affect the development and fitness of the chicks after fledging...
October 2017: Zoological Science
Christine R Lattin, Maxwell A Emerson, Jean-Dominique Gallezot, Tim Mulnix, J Elliott Brown, Richard E Carson
BACKGROUND: One potential barrier to using in vivo imaging in any new animal species is solving the basic problem of how to hold animals safely and securely during scans. NEW METHOD: In this paper, we describe the design, fabrication, use, and positional reproducibility of a 3D-printed plastic device (the Avian Imaging Device, or AID) for imaging the brain of 1 or 2 small songbirds. We designed two different types of head cones to use with this device: one that was not contoured and designed for anesthesia induction, and one contoured to the shape of a house sparrow head, designed to be used with a pre-anesthetized animal...
October 6, 2017: Journal of Neuroscience Methods
Jeremy A Spool, Lauren V Riters
Reproductive success requires animals to adjust social and sexual behaviors in response to changes in environmental resources. In many species, males produce courtship signals to attract females; however, not all females are attracted by these signals. One possible explanation for this is that environmental resources alter neural mechanisms underlying motivation and reward in females so that male courtship is attractive when conditions are most favorable for an individual to breed. Here, we first introduce resource-dependent breeding behaviors of female songbirds...
August 21, 2017: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Carlos Antonio Rodríguez-Saltos
Courtship signals are attractive; in other words, receivers are motivated to approach courtship signals. Though the concept of a receiver is commonly associated in the literature with that of a mate seeker, young songbirds that are learning to sing by imitating conspecifics are also receivers. Juvenile songbirds are attracted to conspecific songs, which has been shown by juveniles working to hear song in operant chambers. The mechanisms explaining this attraction are poorly understood. Here, I review studies that hint at the mechanisms by which conspecific song becomes attractive...
July 28, 2017: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Paweł Ręk, Robert D Magrath
Many group-living animals cooperatively signal to defend resources, but what stops deceptive signalling to competitors about coalition strength? Cooperative-signalling species include mated pairs of birds that sing duets to defend their territory. Individuals of these species sometimes sing 'pseudo-duets' by mimicking their partner's contribution, but it is unknown if these songs are deceptive, or why duets are normally reliable. We studied pseudo-duets in Australian magpie-larks, Grallina cyanoleuca, and tested whether multimodal signalling constrains deception...
October 11, 2017: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Jinhong Luo, Cynthia F Moss
Many species of bat emit acoustic signals and use information carried by echoes reflecting from nearby objects to navigate and forage. It is widely documented that echolocating bats adjust the features of sonar calls in response to echo feedback; however, it remains unknown whether audiovocal feedback contributes to sonar call design. Audiovocal feedback refers to the monitoring of one's own vocalizations during call production and has been intensively studied in nonecholocating animals. Audiovocal feedback not only is a necessary component of vocal learning but also guides the control of the spectro-temporal structure of vocalizations...
September 25, 2017: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
James W Rivers, Jennifer L Houtz, Matthew G Betts, Brent M Horton
Many species that use or require early-successional forest are of conservation concern, including a number of songbirds that have experienced long-term population declines. In this study, our initial goal was to test whether herbicide application intensity was linked to offspring sex ratio in the White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys), a species that requires early-successional forest within forested landscapes. However, a rapid and accurate method using direct PCR to sex a large sample of birds (n > 1000 individuals) was unavailable, so our secondary goal was to develop a new approach for rapidly determine offspring sex...
2017: Conservation Physiology
Scott McBurney, Whitney K Kelly-Clark, María J Forzán, Raphaël Vanderstichel, Kevin Teather, Spencer J Greenwood
Trichomonas gallinae has emerged worldwide as a cause of mortality in songbirds (passerines). The congregation of numerous birds, including the reservoir hosts, pigeons and doves (columbids), at backyard feeding and watering sources has been suggested as a potential driver for the outbreaks. Evidence supporting a role for water in transmission has been established, but the role of birdseed in the transmission of trichomoniasis remained to be investigated. We assessed the survival of T. gallinae in three commercial birdseeds (mixed seed, black-oil sunflower seed, and niger seed) routinely used to attract passerine birds to local properties...
September 2017: Avian Diseases
Elena M Panova, Alexandr V Agafonov
The research on imitation in the animal kingdom has more than a century-long history. A specific kind of imitation, auditory-vocal imitation, is well known in birds, especially among songbirds and parrots, but data for mammals are limited to elephants, marine mammals, and humans. Cetaceans are reported to imitate various signals, including species-specific calls, artificial sounds, and even vocalizations from other species if they share the same habitat. Here we describe the changes in the vocal repertoire of a beluga whale that was housed with a group of bottlenose dolphins...
November 2017: Animal Cognition
Jessie D Golding, Victoria J Dreitz
Grazing on natural rangelands, which are areas dominated by native vegetation that are used for livestock grazing, can achieve desired vegetation outcomes, preserve native habitat, and economically benefit multiple stakeholders. It is a powerful tool that can be manipulated to reduce wildlife declines and benefit ecosystems. However, the benefits of conservation grazing systems on many wildlife communities remain relatively unexplored. We compared songbird communities between two grazing systems in eastern Montana: rest-rotation, which is a conservation grazing system, and season-long...
December 15, 2017: Journal of Environmental Management
Rita Hargitai, Nóra Boross, Susanne Hámori, Eszter Neuberger, Zoltán Nyiri
Biliverdin and protoporphyrin pigments are deposited into the eggshell when the developing egg is in the shell gland. However, the site of synthesis of eggshell pigments is still uncertain, although it may influence the possible costs and potential functions of eggshell coloration in avian species. Eggshell pigments may be derived from red blood cells or be produced in other organs and then transferred to the shell gland, or they may be synthesized de novo in the shell gland. We studied in the canary (Serinus canaria) whether eggshell blue-green and brown pigmentations are associated with experimentally elevated anemia, female hematocrit level, immature erythrocyte percentage, and feces and plasma pigment levels during egg laying to find out the possible origin of eggshell pigments...
November 2017: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: PBZ
Joy Eaton, Devaleena S Pradhan, Julia Barske, Leonida Fusani, Virginie Canoine, Barney A Schlinger
The prohormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) circulates in vertebrate blood with the potential for actions on target tissues including the central nervous system (CNS). Many actions of DHEA require its conversion into more active products, some of which are catalyzed by the enzyme 3β-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase/isomerase (3β-HSD). Studies of birds show both expression and activity of 3β-HSD in brain and its importance in regulating social behavior. In oscine songbirds, 3β-HSD is expressed at reasonably high levels in brain, possibly linked to their complex neural circuitry controlling song...
September 18, 2017: General and Comparative Endocrinology
Mimi L Phan, Mark M Gergues, Shafali Mahidadia, Jorge Jimenez-Castillo, David S Vicario, Kasia M Bieszczad
Epigenetic mechanisms that modify chromatin conformation have recently been under investigation for their contributions to learning and the formation of memory. For example, the role of enzymes involved in histone acetylation are studied in the formation of long-lasting memories because memory consolidation requires gene expression events that are facilitated by an open state of chromatin. We recently proposed that epigenetic events may control the entry of specific sensory features into long-term memory by enabling transcription-mediated neuronal plasticity in sensory brain areas...
2017: Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Jakob C Mueller, Pim Edelaar, Adrián Baños-Villalba, Martina Carrete, Jaime Potti, Julio Blas, Jose Luis Tella, Bart Kempenaers
Human-induced biological invasions are common worldwide and often have negative impacts on wildlife and human societies. Several studies have shown evidence for selection on invaders after introduction to the new range. However, selective processes already acting prior to introduction have been largely neglected. Here, we tested whether such early selection acts on known behaviour-related gene variants in the yellow-crowned bishop (Euplectes afer), a pet-traded African songbird. We tested for nonrandom allele frequency changes after trapping, acclimation and survival in captivity...
September 19, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Allison Cornell, Tony D Williams
In avian species, little is known about the development of physiological traits in the days preceding fledging, a critical life history transition marked by a high mortality rate. Developmental trajectory during this period may be flexible based on ecological context or hardwired, with potential costs for variation in growth in the form of oxidative stress. Patterns in development are likely to relate to variation in life history, for which seabirds and aerial insectivores have been well studied, while our focal species is a grassland ground forager, the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris)...
September 15, 2017: Journal of Experimental Biology
Kristina L Paxton, Frank R Moore
The phases of the annual cycle for migratory species are inextricably linked. Yet, less than five percent of ecological studies examine seasonal interactions. In this study, we utilized stable hydrogen isotopes to geographically link individual black-and-white warblers (Mniotilta varia) captured during spring migration with breeding destinations to understand a migrant's stopover strategy in the context of other phases of the annual cycle. We found that stopover strategy is not only a function of a bird's current energetic state, but also the distance remaining to breeding destination and a bird's time-schedule, which has previously been linked to habitat conditions experienced in the preceding phase of the annual cycle...
September 2017: Ecology and Evolution
Daniel N Düring, Benjamin J Knörlein, Coen P H Elemans
The biomechanics of sound production forms an integral part of the neuromechanical control loop of avian vocal motor control. However, we critically lack quantification of basic biomechanical parameters describing the vocal organ, the syrinx, such as material properties of syringeal elements, forces and torques exerted on, and motion of the syringeal skeleton during song. Here, we present a novel marker-based 3D stereoscopic imaging technique to reconstruct 3D motion of servo-controlled actuation of syringeal muscle insertions sites in vitro and focus on two muscles controlling sound pitch...
September 12, 2017: Scientific Reports
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