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Béatrice V Hernout, Louise J Gibson, Adam J Walmsley, Kathryn E Arnold
Many wild animals can be adversely affected by trace metals around point sources but little is known about the risks to birds across their ranges. Trace metals in the soil are ubiquitously, if heterogeneously distributed, across the world due to natural and anthropogenic sources. Here, we built, parameterized and applied a spatially explicit modelling framework to determine the risks of soil-associated metals to 30 invertebrate-consuming passerine species across their spatial distribution in England and Wales...
June 14, 2018: Science of the Total Environment
Olesya Shevchouk, Samar Ghorbanpoor, Ed Smith, Philippe Liere, Michael Schumacher, Gregory F Ball, Charlotte A Cornil, Jacques Balthazart
In seasonally breeding songbirds such as canaries, singing behavior is predominantly under the control of testosterone and its metabolites. Short daylenths in the fall that break photorefractoriness are followed by increasing daylengths in spring that activate singing via both photoperiodic and hormonal mechanisms. However, we observed in a group of castrated male Fife fancy canaries maintained for a long duration under a short day photoperiod a large proportion of subjects that sang at high rates. This singing rate was not correlated with variation in the low circulating concentrations of testosterone...
June 14, 2018: Hormones and Behavior
Timothy P Brawn, Howard C Nusbaum, Daniel Margoliash
Newly encoded, labile memories are prone to disruption during post-learning wakefulness. Here we examine the contributions of retroactive and proactive interference to daytime forgetting on an auditory classification task in a songbird. While both types of interference impair performance, they do not develop concurrently. The retroactive interference of task-B on task-A developed during the learning of task-B, whereas the proactive interference of task-A on task-B emerged during subsequent waking retention...
July 2018: Learning & Memory
Jean Fantle-Lepczyk, Andrew Taylor, David C Duffy, Lisa H Crampton, Sheila Conant
Evolution in the Hawaiian Islands has produced a unique avian assemblage. Unfortunately, many of these bird species are highly endangered or extinct. Despite numerous and increasing threats and great effort aimed at saving endemic birds, we lack basic science necessary for understanding many species of concern. One such species is the critically endangered Puaiohi (Myadestes palmeri), a rare songbird endemic to the island of Kaua'i and the only remaining native thrush on the island. At present, the Puaiohi's breeding population is estimated to be ~500 birds restricted to the Alaka'i Wilderness Preserve...
2018: PloS One
Wallisson Sylas Luna de Oliveira, Sérgio de Faria Lopes, Rômulo Romeu Nóbrega Alves
BACKGROUND: Birds are kept as pets around the world, and bird-keeping is an ancient and widespread practice, constituting one of the main reasons for the decline of some species. In the semi-arid region of Brazil, this practice is very common and continues despite being designated as illegal in recent decades. This study aimed to identify the species and families of songbirds used as pets in the semi-arid region of Brazil, characterize the maintenance of the exploited species in captivity, and evaluate the sociocultural context associated with this practice...
June 11, 2018: Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
Elisa Castagnola, Nasim Winchester Vahidi, Surabhi Nimbalkar, Srihita Rudraraju, Marvin Thielk, Elena Zucchini, Claudia Cea, Stefano Carli, Timothy Q Gentner, Davide Ricci, Luciano Fadiga, Sam Kassegne
In this study, we present a 4-channel intracortical glassy carbon (GC) microelectrode array on a flexible substrate for the simultaneous in vivo neural activity recording and dopamine (DA) concentration measurement at four different brain locations (220μm vertical spacing). The ability of GC microelectrodes to detect DA was firstly assessed in vitro in phosphate-buffered saline solution and then validated in vivo measuring spontaneous DA concentration in the Striatum of European Starling songbird through fast scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV)...
2018: MRS Advances
Chihiro Mori, Wan-Chun Liu, Kazuhiro Wada
Complex learned behaviors, like bird song and human speech, develop under the influence of both genetic and environmental factors. Accordingly, learned behaviors comprise species specificity and individual variability. Auditory information plays a critical role in vocal learning by songbirds, both to memorize tutor songs and to monitor own vocalizations. Nevertheless, audition-deprived songbirds develop structured, species-specific song patterns. It remains to be elucidated how the auditory input contributes to the development of individual variability of song characteristics...
June 7, 2018: Scientific Reports
Johan J Bolhuis, Gabriel J L Beckers, Marinus A C Huybregts, Robert C Berwick, Martin B H Everaert
The faculty of language is thought to be uniquely human. Recently, it has been claimed that songbirds are able to associate meaning with sound, comparable to the way that humans do. In human language, the meaning of expressions (semantics) is dependent on a mind-internal hierarchical structure (syntax). Meaning is associated with structure through the principle of compositionality, whereby the meaning of a complex expression is a function of the meaning of its constituent parts and the mode of composition. We argue that while recent experimental findings on songbird call sequences offer exciting novel insights into animal communication, despite claims to the contrary, they are quite unlike what we find in human language...
June 4, 2018: PLoS Biology
Bin Liang, Ning Wang, Nan Li, Rebecca T Kimball, Edward L Braun
Mitochondrial DNA sequences are frequently transferred into the nuclear genome, giving rise to numts (nuclear mitochondrial DNA segments). In the absence of whole genomes, avian numts have been suggested to be rare and relatively short. We examined 64 bird genomes to test hypotheses regarding numt frequency, distribution among taxa, and likelihood of homoplasy. We discovered 100-fold variation in numt number across species. Two songbirds, Geospiza fortis (Darwin's finch) and Zonotrichia albicollis (white-throated sparrow) had the largest number of numts...
May 31, 2018: Molecular Biology and Evolution
Jenny S Carlson, Brittany Nelms, Christopher M Barker, William K Reisen, Ravinder N M Sehgal, Anthony J Cornel
Currently, there are very few studies of avian malaria that investigate relationships among the host-vector-parasite triad concomitantly. In the current study, we experimentally measured the vector competence of several Culex mosquitoes for a newly described avian malaria parasite, Plasmodium homopolare. Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) blood infected with a low P. homopolare parasitemia was inoculated into a naïve domestic canary (Serinus canaria forma domestica). Within 5 to 10 days post infection (dpi), the canary unexpectedly developed a simultaneous high parasitemic infection of Plasmodium cathemerium (Pcat6) and a low parasitemic infection of P...
May 29, 2018: Parasitology Research
Elizabeth M George, Kimberly A Rosvall
In many vertebrates, males increase circulating testosterone (T) levels in response to seasonal and social changes in competition. Females are also capable of producing and responding to T, but the full extent to which they can elevate T across life history stages remains unclear. Here we investigated T production during various breeding stages in female tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor), which face intense competition for nesting sites. We performed GnRH and saline injections and compared changes in T levels 30 min before and after injection...
June 2, 2018: Hormones and Behavior
Raïssa A de Boer, Marcel Eens, Wendt Müller
Inbreeding depression plays a significant role in evolutionary biology and ecology. However, we lack a clear understanding of the fitness consequences of inbreeding depression. Studies often focus on short-term effects of inbreeding in juvenile offspring, whereas inbreeding depression in adult traits and the interplay between inbreeding depression and age are rarely addressed. Inbreeding depression may increase with age and accelerate the decline in reproductive output in ageing individuals (reproductive senescence), which could be subject to sex-specific dynamics...
May 30, 2018: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Margaret L Eng, Viktoria Winter, John E Elliott, Scott A MacDougall-Shackleton, Tony D Williams
Environmental contaminants have the potential to act as developmental stressors and impair development of song and the brain of songbirds, but they have been largely unstudied in this context. 2,2',4,4',5-Pentabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-99) is a brominated flame retardant congener that has demonstrated endocrine disrupting effects, and has pervaded the global environment. We assessed the effects of in ovo exposure to environmentally relevant levels of BDE-99 on the neuroanatomy of the song-control system in a model songbird species, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)...
May 22, 2018: Developmental Neurobiology
Shelby L Lawson, Adam R Fishbein, Nora H Prior, Gregory F Ball, Robert J Dooling
There is a rich history of behavioral and neurobiological research focused on the 'syntax' of birdsong as a model for human language and complex auditory perception. Zebra finches are one of the most widely studied songbird species in this area of investigation. As they produce song syllables in a fixed sequence, it is reasonable to assume that adult zebra finches are also sensitive to the order of syllables within their song; however, results from electrophysiological and behavioral studies provide somewhat mixed evidence on exactly how sensitive zebra finches are to syllable order as compared, say, to syllable structure...
May 15, 2018: Animal Cognition
Somayeh Ahmadiantehrani, Elisa O Gores, Sarah E London
Nonassociative learning is considered simple because it depends on presentation of a single stimulus, but it likely reflects complex molecular signaling. To advance understanding of the molecular mechanisms of one form of nonassociative learning, habituation, for ethologically relevant signals we examined song recognition learning in adult zebra finches. These colonial songbirds learn the unique song of individuals, which helps establish and maintain mate and other social bonds, and informs appropriate behavioral interactions with specific birds...
June 2018: Learning & Memory
Alistair Dawson
Photoperiodic control of reproduction in birds is based on two processes, a positive effect leading to gonadal maturation and an inhibitory effect subsequently inducing regression. Nonphotoperiodic cues can modulate photoperiodic control, particularly the inhibitory process. In previous studies of common starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), (1) restriction of food availability to 8 h after dawn had little effect on testicular maturation but dramatically delayed subsequent regression and (2) lower ambient temperature also had little effect during maturation but delayed regression...
July 2018: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology: PBZ
Carlos A Rodríguez-Saltos, Susan M Lyons, Keith W Sockman, Donna L Maney
Sensory responses to courtship signals can be altered by reproductive hormones. In seasonally-breeding female songbirds, for example, sound-induced immediate early gene expression in the auditory pathway is selective for male song over behaviourally irrelevant sounds only when plasma estradiol reaches breeding-like levels. This selectivity has been hypothesized to be mediated by release of monoaminergic neuromodulators in the auditory pathway. We previously showed that in oestrogen-primed female white-throated sparrows, exposure to male song induced dopamine and serotonin release in auditory regions...
May 8, 2018: Journal of Neuroendocrinology
Don Murdoch, Ruidong Chen, Jesse H Goldberg
In reinforcement learning (RL) agents are typically tasked with maximizing a single objective function such as reward. But it remains poorly understood how agents might pursue distinct objectives at once. In machines, multiobjective RL can be achieved by dividing a single agent into multiple sub-agents, each of which is shaped by agent-specific reinforcement, but it remains unknown if animals adopt this strategy. Here we use songbirds to test if navigation and singing, two behaviors with distinct objectives, can be differentially reinforced...
April 30, 2018: Scientific Reports
Vinicius H da Silva, Veronika N Laine, Mirte Bosse, Kees van Oers, Bert Dibbits, Marcel E Visser, Richard P M A Crooijmans, Martien A M Groenen
BACKGROUND: Understanding variation in genome structure is essential to understand phenotypic differences within populations and the evolutionary history of species. A promising form of this structural variation is copy number variation (CNV). CNVs can be generated by different recombination mechanisms, such as non-allelic homologous recombination, that rely on specific characteristics of the genome architecture. These structural variants can therefore be more abundant at particular genes ultimately leading to variation in phenotypes under selection...
March 13, 2018: BMC Genomics
Jip J C Ramakers, Marleen M P Cobben, Piter Bijma, Thomas E Reed, Marcel E Visser, Phillip Gienapp
Despite ample evidence for the presence of maternal effects (MEs) in a variety of traits and strong theoretical indications for their evolutionary consequences, empirical evidence to what extent MEs can influence evolutionary responses to selection remains ambiguous. We tested the degree to which MEs can alter the rate of adaptation of a key life-history trait, clutch size, using an individual-based model approach parameterized with experimental data from a long-term study of great tits (Parus major). We modeled two types of MEs: (i) an environmentally plastic ME, in which the relationship between maternal and offspring clutch size depended on the maternal environment via offspring condition, and (ii) a fixed ME, in which this relationship was constant...
May 2018: American Naturalist
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