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Brendan A Graham, Daniel D Heath, Ryan P Walter, Melissa M Mark, Daniel J Mennill
Given the important role that animal vocalizations play in mate attraction and resource defence, acoustic signals are expected to play a significant role in speciation. Most studies, however, have focused on the acoustic traits of male animals living in the temperate zone. In contrast to temperate environments, in the tropics it is commonplace for both sexes to produce complex acoustic signals. Therefore tropical birds offer the opportunity to compare the sexes and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the evolution of animal signals...
April 15, 2018: Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Shin Yanagihara, Yoko Yazaki-Sugiyama
Behavioral states of animals, such as observing the behavior of a conspecific, modify signal perception and/or sensations that influence state-dependent higher cognitive behavior, such as learning. Recent studies have shown that neuronal responsiveness to sensory signals is modified when animals are engaged in social interactions with others or in locomotor activities. However, how these changes produce state-dependent differences in higher cognitive function is still largely unknown. Zebra finches, which have served as the premier songbird model, learn to sing from early auditory experiences with tutors...
April 12, 2018: Behavioural Processes
Kritika M Garg, Balaji Chattopadhyay, Peter R Wilton, Dewi Malia Prawiradilaga, Frank E Rheindt
Cyclical periods of global cooling have been important drivers of biotic differentiation throughout the Quaternary. Ice age-induced sea level fluctuations can lead to changing patterns of land connections, both facilitating and disrupting gene flow. In this study, we test if species with differing life histories are differentially affected by Quaternary land connections. We used genome-wide SNPs in combination with mitochondrial gene sequences to analyse levels of divergence and gene flow between two songbird complexes across two Wallacean islands that have been repeatedly connected during glaciations...
April 3, 2018: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Bradley M Colquitt, David G Mets, Michael S Brainard
Background: Vocal learning in songbirds has emerged as a powerful model for sensorimotor learning. Neurobehavioral studies of Bengalese finch (Lonchura striata domestica) song, naturally more variable and plastic than songs of other finch species, have demonstrated the importance of behavioral variability for initial learning, maintenance, and plasticity of vocalizations. However, the molecular and genetic underpinnings of this variability and the learning it supports are poorly understood...
March 1, 2018: GigaScience
Xiumin Chen, Yanhua Qu, Yalin Cheng, Jing Wang, Xiaohua Lei, Gang Song, Huishan Zhang, Haitao Wang, Fumin Lei
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Genomic adaptations to high altitudes have been well studied in the last several years; however, the roles of microRNAs (miRNAs), which are essential modulators of a variety of genes and key cellular processes, have rarely been explored. Here, we explored the interactions between miRNAs and their target genes as an adaptation to high altitude in an avian species, the great tit (Parus major), which is widely distributed across the Eurasian continent at altitudes between 4500 m and sea level...
March 28, 2018: Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry
Brian K Trevelline, Tim Nuttle, Brandon D Hoenig, Nathan L Brouwer, Brady A Porter, Steven C Latta
Riparian habitats are characterized by substantial flows of emergent aquatic insects that cross the stream-forest interface and provide an important source of prey for insectivorous birds. The increased availability of prey arising from aquatic subsidies attracts high densities of Neotropical migratory songbirds that are thought to exploit emergent aquatic insects as a nestling food resource; however, the prey preferences and diets of birds in these communities are only broadly understood. In this study, we utilized DNA metabarcoding to investigate the extent to which three syntopic species of migratory songbirds-Acadian Flycatcher, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Wood Thrush-breeding in Appalachian riparian habitats (Pennsylvania, USA) exploit and partition aquatic prey subsidies as a nestling food resource...
April 3, 2018: Oecologia
Andrey Mukhin, Dmitry Kobylkov, Dmitry Kishkinev, Vitaly Grinkevich
Long-distance avian migrants, e.g. Eurasian reed warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), can precisely schedule events of their annual cycle. However, the proximate mechanisms controlling annual cycle and their interplay with environmental factors are poorly understood. We artificially interrupted breeding in reed warblers by bringing them into captivity and recording birds' locomotor activity for 5-7 days. Over this time, most of the captive birds gradually developed nocturnal locomotor activity not observed in breeding birds...
April 3, 2018: Scientific Reports
Peter V Lovell, Nicole A Huizinga, Samantha R Friedrich, Morgan Wirthlin, Claudio V Mello
BACKGROUND: The ability to imitate the vocalizations of other organisms, a trait known as vocal learning, is shared by only a few organisms, including humans, where it subserves the acquisition of speech and language, and 3 groups of birds. In songbirds, vocal learning requires the coordinated activity of a set of specialized brain nuclei referred to as the song control system. Recent efforts have revealed some of the genes that are expressed in these vocal nuclei, however a thorough characterization of the transcriptional specializations of this system is still missing...
April 3, 2018: BMC Genomics
Sarah A Heimovics, Jennifer R Merritt, Cecilia Jalabert, Chunqi Ma, Donna L Maney, Kiran K Soma
17β-estradiol (E2 ) has numerous rapid effects on the brain and behavior. This review focuses on the rapid effects of E2 on aggression, an important social behavior, in songbirds. First, we highlight the contributions of studies on song sparrows, which reveal that seasonal changes in the environment profoundly influence the capacity of E2 to rapidly alter aggressive behavior. E2 administration to male song sparrows increases aggression within 20 min in the non-breeding season, but not in the breeding season...
March 29, 2018: Hormones and Behavior
Annemie Van der Linden, Jacques Balthazart
This review introduces functional MRI (fMRI) as an outstanding tool to assess rapid effects of sex steroids on auditory processing in seasonal songbirds. We emphasize specific advantages of this method as compared to other more conventional and invasive methods used for this purpose and summarize an exemplary auditory fMRI study performed on male starlings exposed to different types of starling song before and immediately after the inhibition of aromatase activity by an i.p. injection of Vorozole™. We describe how most challenges that relate to the necessity to anesthetize subjects and minimize image- and sound-artifacts can be overcome in order to obtain a voxel-based 3D-representation of changes in auditory brain activity to various sound stimuli before and immediately after a pharmacologically-induced depletion of endogenous estrogens...
March 29, 2018: Hormones and Behavior
Camille Sottas, Jiří Reif, Lechoslaw Kuczynski, Radka Reifová
Interspecific competition is assumed to play an important role in the ecological differentiation of species and speciation. However, empirical evidence for competition's role in speciation remains surprisingly scarce. Here we studied the role of interspecific competition in the ecological differentiation and speciation of two closely related songbird species, the Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) and the Thrush Nightingale (L. luscinia). Both species are insectivorous and ecologically very similar...
March 30, 2018: Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Jeffery L Dunning, Sarah E Maze, Ethan J Atwood, Jonathan F Prather
Female songbirds use male song as an indicator of fitness and use that information to select their mate. Investigations of the female auditory system have provided evidence that the neurons within the caudal mesopallium (CM) are involved in the processing of songs that a female finds attractive, however, it is not clear how CM may exert its influence on behavioral indicators of mate choice. In the present study, anterograde tracing revealed the efferent connections of the female songbird CM. The results demonstrate connections to other auditory regions previously described in males, as well as novel connections to brain regions implicated in motor control...
March 30, 2018: Journal of Comparative Neurology
Jennifer B Dai, Yining Chen, Jon T Sakata
Distinguishing between familiar and unfamiliar individuals is an important task that shapes the expression of social behavior. As such, identifying the neural populations involved in processing and learning the sensory attributes of individuals is important for understanding mechanisms of behavior. Catecholamine-synthesizing neurons have been implicated in sensory processing, but relatively little is known about their contribution to auditory learning and processing across various vertebrate taxa. Here we investigated the extent to which immediate early gene expression in catecholaminergic circuitry reflects information about the familiarity of social signals and predicts immediate early gene expression in sensory processing areas in songbirds...
March 27, 2018: Neuroscience
Michelle A Rensel, Jessica A Ding, Devaleena S Pradhan, Barney A Schlinger
Glucocorticoid (GC) hormones act on the brain to regulate diverse functions, from behavior and homeostasis to the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Local regeneration and metabolism of GCs can occur in target tissues through the actions of the 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases [11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1) and 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11β-HSD2), respectively] to regulate access to GC receptors. Songbirds have become especially important model organisms for studies of stress hormone action; however, there has been little focus on neural GC metabolism...
2018: Frontiers in Endocrinology
Kamiel Spoelstra, Irene Verhagen, Davy Meijer, Marcel E Visser
Artificial light at night has shown a dramatic increase over the last decades and continues to increase. Light at night can have strong effects on the behaviour and physiology of species, which includes changes in the daily timing of activity; a clear example is the advance in dawn song onset in songbirds by low levels of light at night. Although such effects are often referred to as changes in circadian timing, i.e. changes to the internal clock, two alternative mechanisms are possible. First, light at night can change the timing of clock controlled activity, without any change to the clock itself; e...
March 28, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Lacey F Hughey, Andrew M Hein, Ariana Strandburg-Peshkin, Frants H Jensen
Mobile animal groups provide some of the most compelling examples of self-organization in the natural world. While field observations of songbird flocks wheeling in the sky or anchovy schools fleeing from predators have inspired considerable interest in the mechanics of collective motion, the challenge of simultaneously monitoring multiple animals in the field has historically limited our capacity to study collective behaviour of wild animal groups with precision. However, recent technological advancements now present exciting opportunities to overcome many of these limitations...
May 19, 2018: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Michael A McQuillan, Timothy C Roth Ii, Alex V Huynh, Amber M Rice
Identifying the phenotypes underlying postzygotic reproductive isolation is crucial for fully understanding the evolution and maintenance of species. One potential postzygotic isolating barrier that has rarely been examined is learning and memory ability in hybrids. Learning and memory are important fitness-related traits, especially in scatter-hoarding species, where accurate retrieval of hoarded food is vital for winter survival. Here, we test the hypothesis that learning and memory ability can act as a postzygotic isolating barrier by comparing these traits among two scatter-hoarding songbird species, black-capped (Poecile atricapillus), Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis), and their naturally occurring hybrids...
March 26, 2018: Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution
Andrew D Sweet, Sarah E Bush, Daniel R Gustafsson, Julie M Allen, Emily DiBlasi, Heather R Skeen, Jason D Weckstein, Kevin P Johnson
Comparisons of host and parasite phylogenies often show varying degrees of phylogenetic congruence. However, few studies have rigorously explored the factors driving this variation. Multiple factors such as host or parasite morphology may govern the degree of phylogenetic congruence. An ideal analysis for understanding the factors correlated with congruence would focus on a diverse host-parasite system for increased variation and statistical power. In this study, we focused on the Brueelia-complex, a diverse and widespread group of feather lice that primarily parasitize songbirds...
March 22, 2018: International Journal for Parasitology
Irma Järvelä
When searching for genetic markers inherited together with musical aptitude, genes affecting inner ear development and brain function were identified. The alpha-synuclein gene (SNCA), located in the most significant linkage region of musical aptitude, was overexpressed when listening and performing music. The GATA-binding protein 2 gene (GATA2) was located in the best associated region of musical aptitude and regulates SNCA in dopaminergic neurons, thus linking DNA- and RNA-based studies of music-related traits together...
March 23, 2018: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Devin P Merullo, Chinweike N Asogwa, Miguel Sanchez-Valpuesta, Shin Hayase, Bikash R Pattnaik, Kazuhiro Wada, Lauren V Riters
Learned vocalizations are important for communication in some vertebrate taxa. The neural circuitry for the learning and production of vocalizations is well-known in songbirds, many of which learn songs initially during a critical period early in life. Dopamine is essential for motor learning, including song learning, and dopamine-related measures change throughout development in song-control regions such as HVC, the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium (LMAN), Area X, and the robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA)...
March 22, 2018: Developmental Neurobiology
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