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Thomas Raap, Giulia Casasole, David Costantini, Hamada AbdElgawad, Han Asard, Rianne Pinxten, Marcel Eens
Artificial light at night (ALAN), termed light pollution, is an increasingly important anthropogenic environmental pressure on wildlife. Exposure to unnatural lighting environments may have profound effects on animal physiology, particularly during early life. Here, we experimentally investigated for the first time the impact of ALAN on body mass and oxidative status during development, using nestlings of a free-living songbird, the great tit (Parus major), an important model species. Body mass and blood oxidative status were determined at baseline (=13 days after hatching) and again after a two night exposure to ALAN...
October 19, 2016: Scientific Reports
Rachel A Johnston, Kristina L Paxton, Frank R Moore, Robert K Wayne, Thomas B Smith
The annual migration of a bird can involve thousands of kilometers of non-stop flight, requiring accurately timed seasonal changes in physiology and behavior. Understanding the molecular mechanisms controlling this endogenous programme can provide functional and evolutionary insights into the circannual biological clock and the potential of migratory species to adapt to changing environments. Under naturally-timed photoperiod conditions, we maintained captive Swainson's thrushes (Catharus ustulatus) and performed RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) of the ventral hypothalamus and optic chiasma to evaluate transcriptome-wide gene expression changes of individuals in migratory condition...
October 16, 2016: Molecular Ecology
Piera Filippi
Across a wide range of animal taxa, prosodic modulation of the voice can express emotional information and is used to coordinate vocal interactions between multiple individuals. Within a comparative approach to animal communication systems, I hypothesize that the ability for emotional and interactional prosody (EIP) paved the way for the evolution of linguistic prosody - and perhaps also of music, continuing to play a vital role in the acquisition of language. In support of this hypothesis, I review three research fields: (i) empirical studies on the adaptive value of EIP in non-human primates, mammals, songbirds, anurans, and insects; (ii) the beneficial effects of EIP in scaffolding language learning and social development in human infants; (iii) the cognitive relationship between linguistic prosody and the ability for music, which has often been identified as the evolutionary precursor of language...
2016: Frontiers in Psychology
Than J Boves, Graham D Fairhurst, Clark S Rushing, David A Buehler
In migratory species, breeding and non-breeding locations are geographically separate, yet the effects of conditions from one stage may carry over to affect a subsequent stage. Ideally, to understand the mechanisms and implications of 'carry-over effects', one would need to follow individuals throughout the year, quantify potential environmental causal factors and physiological mediators during multiple life-history stages, and measure downstream fitness. Owing to current limitations of tracking technology, this is impossible for small, long-distance migrants, so indirect methods to characterize carry-over effects are required...
2016: Conservation Physiology
J Ouwehand, C Both
1.Properly timed spring migration enhances reproduction and survival. Climate change requires organisms to respond to changes such as advanced spring phenology. Pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca have become a model species to study such phenological adaptations of long-distance migratory songbirds to climate change, but data on individuals' time schedules outside the breeding season are still lacking. 2.Using light-level geolocators we studied variation in migration schedules across the year in a pied flycatcher population in the Netherlands, which sheds light on the ability for individual adjustments in spring arrival timing to track environmental changes at their breeding grounds...
October 10, 2016: Journal of Animal Ecology
Lysann Wagener, Andreas Nieder
Songbirds possess acute vision. How higher brain centers represent basic and parameterized visual stimuli to process sensory signals according to their behavioral importance has not been studied in a systematic way. We therefore examined how carrion crows (Corvus corone) and their nidopallial visual neurons process global visual motion information in dynamic random-dot displays during a delayed match-to-sample (DMS) task. The behavioral data show that moderately fast motion speeds (16 degrees of visual angle/second) result in superior direction discrimination performance...
October 8, 2016: European Journal of Neuroscience
Marjorie C Sorensen, Graham D Fairhurst, Susanne Jenni-Eiermann, Jason Newton, Elizabeth Yohannes, Claire N Spottiswoode
BACKGROUND: An understanding of year-round habitat use is essential for determining how carry-over effects shape population dynamics in long-distance migratory songbirds. The recent discovery of long-term migratory staging sites in many species, prior to arrival at final wintering sites, adds complexity to efforts to decipher non-breeding habitat use and connections between sites. We investigated whether habitat conditions during migratory staging carry over to influence great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) body condition at final wintering sites in Zambia...
October 4, 2016: BMC Ecology
Christopher R Field, Trina Bayard, Carina Gjerdrum, Jason M Hill, Susan Meiman, Chris S Elphick
Sea-level rise will affect coastal species worldwide, but models that aim to predict these effects are typically based on simple measures of sea level that do not capture its inherent complexity, especially variation over timescales shorter than one year. Coastal species might be most affected, however, by floods that exceed a critical threshold. The frequency and duration of such floods may be more important to population dynamics than mean measures of sea level. In particular, the potential for changes in the frequency and duration of flooding events to result in non-linear population responses or biological thresholds merits further research, but may require that models incorporate greater resolution in sea level than is typically used...
September 29, 2016: Global Change Biology
Kenton A Buck, Claire W Varian-Ramos, Daniel A Cristol, John P Swaddle
Mercury is a ubiquitous metal contaminant that negatively impacts reproduction of wildlife and has many other sub-lethal effects. Songbirds are sensitive bioindicators of mercury toxicity and may suffer population declines as a result of mercury pollution. Current predictions of mercury accumulation and biomagnification often overlook possible genetic variation in mercury uptake and elimination within species and the potential for evolution in affected populations. We conducted a study of dietary mercury exposure in a model songbird species, maintaining a breeding population of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) on standardized diets ranging from 0...
2016: PloS One
Susanne Schwarze, Friederike Steenken, Nadine Thiele, Dmitry Kobylkov, Nele Lefeldt, David Dreyer, Nils-Lasse Schneider, Henrik Mouritsen
It is known that night-migratory songbirds use a magnetic compass measuring the magnetic inclination angle, i.e. the angle between the Earth's surface and the magnetic field lines, but how do such birds orient at the magnetic equator? A previous study reported that birds are completely randomly oriented in a horizontal north-south magnetic field with 0° inclination angle. This seems counter-intuitive, because birds using an inclination compass should be able to separate the north-south axis from the east-west axis, so that bimodal orientation might be expected in a horizontal field...
September 26, 2016: Scientific Reports
Daniel Zúñiga, Jade Falconer, Adam M Fudickar, Willi Jensen, Andreas Schmidt, Martin Wikelski, Jesko Partecke
Every year, billions of wild diurnal songbirds migrate at night. To do so, they shift their daily rhythm from diurnality to nocturnality. In captivity this is observed as a gradual transition of daytime activity developing into nocturnal activity, but how wild birds prepare their daily rhythms for migration remains largely unknown. Using an automated radio-telemetry system, we compared activity patterns of free-living migrant and resident European blackbirds (Turdus merula) in a partially migratory population during the pre-migratory season...
September 26, 2016: Scientific Reports
Davide M Dominoni, Stefan Greif, Erwin Nemeth, Henrik Brumm
Anthropogenic noise is of increasing concern to biologists and medical scientists. Its detrimental effects on human health have been well studied, with the high noise levels from air traffic being of particular concern. However, less is known about the effects of airport noise pollution on signal masking in wild animals. Here, we report a relationship between aircraft noise and two major features of the singing behavior of birds. We found that five of ten songbird species began singing significantly earlier in the morning in the vicinity of a major European airport than their conspecifics at a quieter control site...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Letícia Soares, Vincenzo A Ellis, Robert E Ricklefs
Hosts frequently harbour multiple parasite infections, yet patterns of parasite co-occurrence are poorly documented in nature. In this study, we asked whether two common avian blood parasites, one haemosporidian and one trypanosome, affect each other's occurrence in individuals of a single host species. We used molecular genotyping to survey protozoan parasites in the peripheral blood of yellow-breasted chats (Aves: Passeriformes [Parulidae]: Icteria virens) from the Ozarks of Southern Missouri. We also determined whether single and co-infections differently influence white blood cell and polychromatic erythrocyte counts, the latter being a measure of regenerative anaemia...
September 20, 2016: Parasitology
Sarah Cushing Woolley
Basal ganglia circuits are critical for the modulation of motor performance across behavioral states. In zebra finches, a cortical-basal ganglia circuit dedicated to singing is necessary for males adjust their song performance and transition between spontaneous singing, when they are alone ('undirected' song), and a performance state when they sing to a female ('female-directed song'). However, we know little about the role of different basal ganglia cell types in this behavioral transition or the degree to which behavioral context modulates the activity of different neuron classes...
September 14, 2016: Journal of Neurophysiology
Devin P Merullo, Caroline S Angyal, Sharon A Stevenson, Lauren V Riters
Some animals, including songbirds, vocalize at high rates when alone or in large groups. In songbirds, vocal behavior in these contexts is important for song learning and group cohesion. It is not obviously targeted at any particular individual and is described as 'undirected'. Studies suggest a role for dopamine (DA) in undirected song. The neuropeptide neurotensin (NT) can enhance dopaminergic signaling upon binding to the NT receptor 1 (NTR1) and is found in regions where DA can influence song, including the ventral tegmental area (VTA), septum, and the song control nucleus Area X...
September 10, 2016: Brain, Behavior and Evolution
Alison E Mather, Becki Lawson, Elizabeth de Pinna, Paul Wigley, Julian Parkhill, Nicholas R Thomson, Andrew J Page, Mark A Holmes, Gavin K Paterson
: Passerine salmonellosis is a well-recognised disease of birds in the order Passeriformes, including common songbirds such as finches and sparrows, caused by infection with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Previous research has suggested that some subtypes of S. Typhimurium - definitive phage types (DT) 40, 56 variant, and 160 - are host-adapted to passerines, and that these birds may represent a reservoir of infection for humans and other animals. Here, we have used whole genome sequences of 11 isolates from British passerines, five isolates of similar DTs from humans and a domestic cat, and previously published S...
September 9, 2016: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Megan M Skrip, Navindra P Seeram, Tao Yuan, Hang Ma, Scott R McWilliams
Physiological challenges during one part of the annual cycle can carry over and affect performance at a subsequent phase, and antioxidants could be one mediator of trade-offs between phases. We performed a controlled experiment with zebra finches to examine how songbirds use nutrition to manage trade-offs in antioxidant allocation between endurance flight and subsequent reproduction. Our treatment groups included (1) a non-supplemented, non-exercised group (control group) fed a standard diet with no exercise beyond that experienced during normal activity in an aviary; (2) a supplemented non-exercised group fed a water- and lipid-soluble antioxidant-supplemented diet with no exercise; (3) a non-supplemented exercised group fed a standard diet and trained to perform daily endurance flight for 6 weeks; and (4) a supplemented exercised group fed an antioxidant-supplemented diet and trained to perform daily flight for 6 weeks...
September 1, 2016: Journal of Experimental Biology
Bao-Sen Shieh, Shih-Hsiung Liang, Yuh-Wen Chiu, Szu-Ying Lin
Most previous studies concerning avian adaptation to anthropogenic noise have focused on songbirds, but few have focused on non-songbirds commonly found in urban environments such as doves. We conducted field playback-recording experiments on the perch-coos of five dove species, including four native Taiwan species (the spotted dove, Spilopelia chinensis, the oriental turtle-dove, Streptopelia orientalis, the red collared-dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica, and the emerald dove, Chalcophaps indica) and one species not native to Taiwan (the zebra dove, Geopelia striata) to evaluate the detection and recognition of dove coos in habitats with differing levels of traffic noise...
2016: Scientific Reports
S Saunders, K Smith, R Schott, G Dobbins, J Scheftel
Campylobacteriosis is an enteric illness caused by bacteria of the genus Campylobacter. There are approximately 900 culture-confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis reported annually to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Case patients are interviewed about risk factors, including foods eaten, recreational and drinking water exposures and animal contact. In September 2013, MDH identified two Campylobacter jejuni cases who reported working at the same wildlife rehabilitation centre before illness onset. This report describes the investigation, which used a case-control study design, and identified 16 additional ill persons, for a total of 18 ill persons...
August 30, 2016: Zoonoses and Public Health
Robert G Moyle, Carl H Oliveros, Michael J Andersen, Peter A Hosner, Brett W Benz, Joseph D Manthey, Scott L Travers, Rafe M Brown, Brant C Faircloth
Songbirds (oscine passerines) are the most species-rich and cosmopolitan bird group, comprising almost half of global avian diversity. Songbirds originated in Australia, but the evolutionary trajectory from a single species in an isolated continent to worldwide proliferation is poorly understood. Here, we combine the first comprehensive genome-scale DNA sequence data set for songbirds, fossil-based time calibrations, and geologically informed biogeographic reconstructions to provide a well-supported evolutionary hypothesis for the group...
2016: Nature Communications
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