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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Bird Research this week on PubMed: April 2014 Week 4

PubMed listing for 'bird' OR 'songbird' excluding references to influenza and flu - April 2014 Week 4 

1.Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 2014 Apr 1;23(4):414-424.

Phylogenetic patterns of climatic, habitat and trophic niches in a European avian assemblage.

Pearman PB1Lavergne S2Roquet C2Wüest R1Zimmermann NE1Thuiller W2.Author information:
1Landscape Dynamics Unit, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland.
2Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, UMR 5553, Université Grenoble I, CNRS, BP 53, F-38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France.



The origins of ecological diversity in continental species assemblages have long intrigued biogeographers. We apply phylogenetic comparative analyses to disentangle the evolutionary patterns of ecological niches in an assemblage of European birds. We compare phylogenetic patterns in trophic, habitat and climatic niche components.




From polygon range maps and handbook data we inferred the realized climatic, habitat and trophic niches of 405 species of breeding birds in Europe. We fitted Pagel's lambda and kappa statistics, and conducted analyses of disparity through time to compare temporal patterns of ecological diversification on all niche axes together. All observed patterns were compared with expectations based on neutral (Brownian) models of niche divergence.


In this assemblage, patterns of phylogenetic signal (lambda) suggest that related species resemble each other less in regard to their climatic and habitat niches than they do in their trophic niche. Kappa estimates show that ecological divergence does not gradually increase with divergence time, and that this punctualism is stronger in climatic niches than in habitat and trophic niches. Observed niche disparity markedly exceeds levels expected from a Brownian model of ecological diversification, thus providing no evidence for past phylogenetic niche conservatism in these multivariate niches. Levels of multivariate disparity are greatest for the climatic niche, followed by disparity of the habitat and the trophic niches.


Phylogenetic patterns in the three niche components differ within this avian assemblage. Variation in evolutionary rates (degree of gradualism, constancy through the tree) and/or non-random macroecological sampling probably lead here to differences in the phylogenetic structure of niche components. Testing hypotheses on the origin of these patterns requires more complete phylogenetic trees of the birds, and extended ecological data on different niche components for all bird species.
PMID: 24790525 [PubMed]
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2.J R Soc Interface. 2014 Apr 30;11(96):20140287. Print 2014.

Quantification of feather structure, wettability and resistance to liquid penetration.

Srinivasan S1Chhatre SSGuardado JOPark KCParker ARRubner MFMcKinley GHCohen RE.Author information:
1Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, , Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Birds in the cormorant (Phalacrocoracidae) family dive tens of metres into water to prey on fish while entraining a thin layer of air (a plastron film) within the microstructures of their feathers. In addition, many species within the family spread their wings for long periods of time upon emerging from water. To investigate whether wetting and wing-spreading are related to feather structure, microscopy and photographic studies have previously been used to extract structural parameters for barbs and barbules. In this work, we describe a systematic methodology to characterize the quasi-hierarchical topography of bird feathers that is based on contact angle measurements using a set of polar and non-polar probing liquids. Contact angle measurements on dip-coated feathers of six aquatic bird species (including three from the Phalacrocoracidae family) are used to extract two distinguishing structural parameters, a dimensionless spacing ratio of the barbule (D*) and a characteristic length scale corresponding to the spacing of defect sites. The dimensionless spacing parameter can be used in conjunction with a model for the surface topography to enable us to predict a priori the apparent contact angles of water droplets on feathers as well as the water breakthrough pressure required for the disruption of the plastron on the feather barbules. The predicted values of breakthrough depths in water (1-4 m) are towards the lower end of typical diving depths for the aquatic bird species examined here, and therefore a representative feather is expected to be fully wetted in a typical deep dive. However, thermodynamic surface energy analysis based on a simple one-dimensional cylindrical model of the feathers using parameters extracted from the goniometric analysis reveals that for water droplets on feathers of all six species under consideration, the non-wetting 'Cassie-Baxter' composite state represents the global energy minimum of the system. By contrast, for other wetting liquids, such as alkanes and common oils, the global energy minimum corresponds to a fully wetted or Wenzel state. For diving birds, individual feathers therefore spontaneously dewet once the bird emerges out of water, and the 'wing-spreading' posture might assist in overcoming kinetic barriers associated with pinning of liquid droplets that retard the rate of drying of the wet plumage of diving birds.
PMID: 24789563 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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3.PLoS One. 2014 Apr 30;9(4):e95746. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095746. eCollection 2014.

Captive Rearing Experiments Confirm Song Development without Learning in a Tracheophone Suboscine Bird.

Touchton JM1Seddon N2Tobias JA2.Author information:
1Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panama; Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Radolfzell, Germany.
2Edward Grey Institute, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


The origin of vocal learning in animals has long been the subject of debate, but progress has been limited by uncertainty regarding the distribution of learning mechanisms across the tree of life, even for model systems such as birdsong. In particular, the importance of learning is well known in oscine songbirds, but disputed in suboscines. Members of this diverse group (∼1150 species) are generally assumed not to learn their songs, but empirical evidence is scarce, with previous studies restricted to the bronchophone (non-tracheophone) clade. Here, we conduct the first experimental study of song development in a tracheophone suboscine bird by rearing spotted antbird (Hylophylax naevioides) chicks in soundproofed aviaries. Individuals were raised either in silence with no tutor or exposed to standardized playback of a heterospecific tutor. All individuals surviving to maturity took a minimum of 79 days to produce a crystallized version of adult song, which in all cases was indistinguishable from wild song types of their own species. These first insights into song development in tracheophone suboscines suggest that adult songs are innate rather than learnt. Given that empirical evidence for song learning in suboscines is restricted to polygamous and lek-mating species, whereas tracheophone suboscines are mainly monogamous with long-term social bonds, our results are consistent with the view that sexual selection promotes song learning in birds.
PMID: 24788343 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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4.Environ Res. 2014 Apr 28. pii: S0013-9351(14)00073-5. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.01.010. [Epub ahead of print]

Response to: Bouwman, H. et al. hallogenated pollutants in terrestrial and aquatic bird eggs: Converging patterns of pollutant profiles, and impacts and risks from higher levels Environ. Res. (2013)

Roberts DR1Maharaj R2Coetzee M3Hunt RH3Govere J4Tren R5Urbach J6Attaran A7Blumberg L8.Author information:
1Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA. Electronic address:
2Malaria Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Durban, South Africa.
3Wits Research Institute for Malaria, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
4Malaria Vector Control Specialist, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, South Africa.
5Africa Fighting Malaria, Washington, DC, USA.
6Africa Fighting Malaria, Durban, South Africa.
7University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law and Medicine, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
8National Institute for Communicable Diseases, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa.


Bouwman and coauthors present data and analyses of DDT and other halogenated pollutants in environmental samples and based on their data and analyses thereof, argue against the use of DDT for malaria control. Regrettably, the analyses, presentations, and interpretations of data presented by Bouwman and coauthors are biased and erroneous.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PMID: 24784543 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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5.Front Psychol. 2014 Apr 10;5:283. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00283. eCollection 2014.

Do cavies talk? The effect of anthropomorphic picture books on children's knowledge about animals.

Ganea PA1Canfield CF2Simons-Ghafari K1Chou T3.Author information:
1 Applied Psychology and Human Development, University of Toronto Toronto, ON, Canada.
2Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University Boston, MA, USA.
3Department of Psychology, Florida International University Miami, FL, USA.


Many books for young children present animals in fantastical and unrealistic ways, such as wearing clothes, talking and engaging in human-like activities. This research examined whether anthropomorphism in children's books affects children's learning and conceptions of animals, by specifically assessing the impact of depictions (a bird wearing clothes and reading a book) and language (bird described as talking and as having human intentions). In Study 1, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children saw picture books featuring realistic drawings of a novel animal. Half of the children also heard factual, realistic language, while the other half heard anthropomorphized language. In Study 2, we replicated the first study using anthropomorphic illustrations of real animals. The results show that the language used to describe animals in books has an effect on children's tendency to attribute human-like traits to animals, and that anthropomorphic storybooks affect younger children's learning of novel facts about animals. These results indicate that anthropomorphized animals in books may not only lead to less learning but also influence children's conceptual knowledge of animals.
Free Article
PMID: 24782793 [PubMed]
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6.Horm Behav. 2014 Apr 26. pii: S0018-506X(14)00078-6. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2014.04.011. [Epub ahead of print]

Evaluation of Reference Genes for Quantitative Real-Time PCR in Songbirds.

Zinzow-Kramer WM1Horton BM2Maney DL2.Author information:
1Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Electronic address:
2Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) is becoming a popular tool for the quantification of gene expression in the brain and endocrine tissues of songbirds. Accurate analysis of qPCR data relies on the selection of appropriate reference genes for normalization, yet few papers on songbirds contain evidence of reference gene validation. Here, we evaluated the expression of ten potential reference genes (18S, ACTB, GAPDH, HMBS, HPRT, PPIA, RPL4, RPL32, TFRC, and UBC) in brain, pituitary, ovary, and testis in two species of songbird: zebra finch and white-throated sparrow. We used two algorithms, geNorm and NormFinder, to assess the stability of these reference genes in our samples. We found that the suitability of some of the most popular reference genes for target gene normalization in mammals, such as 18S, depended highly on tissue type. Thus, they are not the best choices for brain and gonad in these songbirds. In contrast, we identified alternative genes, such as HPRT, RPL4 and PPIA, that were highly stable in brain, pituitary, and gonad in these species. Our results suggest that the validation of reference genes in mammals does not necessarily extrapolate to other taxonomic groups. For researchers wishing to identify and evaluate suitable reference genes for qPCR songbirds, our results should serve as a starting point and should help increase the power and utility of songbird models in behavioral neuroendocrinology.
Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
PMID: 24780145 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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7.Conserv Biol. 2014 Apr 29. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12311. [Epub ahead of print]

Assessing Multiregion Avian Benefits from Strategically Targeted Agricultural Buffers.

Evans KO1Burger LW JrRiffell SSmith MD.Author information:
1Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, Box 9690, Mississippi State, MS, 39762, U.S.A..


Mounting evidence of wildlife population gains from targeted conservation practices has prompted the need to develop and evaluate practices that are integrated into production agriculture systems and targeted toward specific habitat objectives. However, effectiveness of targeted conservation actions across broader landscapes is poorly understood. We evaluated multiregion, multispecies avian densities on row-crop fields with native grass field margins (i.e., buffers) as part of the first U.S. agricultural conservation practice designed to support habitat and population recovery objectives of a national wildlife conservation initiative. We coordinated breeding season point transect surveys for 6 grassland bird species on 1151 row-crop fields with and without native grass buffers (9-37 m) in 14 U.S. states (10 ecoregions) from 2006 to 2011. In most regions, breeding season densities of 5 of 6 targeted bird species were greater in the 500-m surrounding survey points centered on fields with native grass buffers than in landscapes without buffers. Relative effect sizes were greatest for Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), Dickcissel (Spiza americana), and Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla) in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley and Eastern Tallgrass Prairie regions. Other species (e.g., Eastern Meadowlark [Sturnella magna], Grasshopper Sparrow [Ammodramus savannarum]) exhibited inconsistent relative effect sizes. Bird densities on fields with and without buffers were greatest in the Central Mixed-grass Prairie region. Our results suggest that strategic use of conservation buffers in regions with the greatest potential for relative density increases in target species will elicit greater range-wide population response than diffuse, uninformed, and broadly distributed implementation of buffers. We recommend integrating multiple conservation practices in broader agricultural landscapes to maximize conservation effectiveness for a larger suite of species. Evaluación de los Beneficios de la Mutliregionalidad de Aves a Partir de Amortiguadores Agriculturales Estratégicamente Señalados.
© 2014 Society for Conservation Biology.
PMID: 24779636 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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8.J Wildl Dis. 2014 Apr 29. [Epub ahead of print]


Fukui D1Takahashi KKubo MUne YKato YIzumiya HTeraoka HAsakawa MYanagida KBando G.Author information:
11  Asahikawa Municipal Asahiyama Zoological Park and Wildlife Conservation Center, Kuranauma, Higashiasahikawa-cho, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 078-8205, Japan.


Abstract An outbreak of salmonellosis in wild passerines caused mass mortality of Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) in Hokkaido, Japan, 2005-2006; however, the etiology was poorly understood. In winter 2008-2009, sparrow mortality again occurred in Hokkaido, and 202 deaths in 100 incidents at 94 sites were reported. We conducted a comprehensive investigation to evaluate the cause and impact on sparrow populations. We collected 26 carcasses at 13 sites, including a zoological park. In addition, Salmonella screening of zoo animals was conducted as a biosecurity measure. Salmonella Typhimurium was isolated from multiple organs in all examined sparrows; they were diagnosed with septicemic salmonellosis. Eleven sites (85%) were related to wild bird feeding and six of eight sparrow fecal samples, including from the zoo, were S. Typhimurium-positive. No infection was detected in zoo animals. Isolates belonged to three phage types: DT40 (88%), DT110 (8%), and DT120 (4%). Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns were the same in all isolates, regardless of phage type. Biochemical characteristics and antibiotic-resistance profiles of DT40 were similar in all isolates, indicating a single origin. The mortality was likely associated with that in 2005-2006 because the isolates had the same profiles. Tissue levels of sodium, calcium, and magnesium (the main components of chemical deicer suspected to be the major cause of poisoning deaths in 2005-2006 mortality) were not higher in the affected sparrows. We conclude that an emerging epidemic infection with S. Typhimurium DT40 related to bird feeding was the cause of sparrow mortality in 2008-2009 and suggest that this causative strain is host-adapted to sparrows in Japan. The mortality might have had some impact on the local population, but its influence was limited.
PMID: 24779465 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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9.Brain Behav Evol. 2014;83(2):140-9. doi: 10.1159/000357831. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

Immunoreactivity distribution of vasotocin and vasoactive intestinal Peptide in brain nuclei of two songbird species with different breeding systems.

Montagnese CM1Székely TGray DBalázsa TZachar G.Author information:
1Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.


Vasopressin influences social behaviour in mammals, in particular social recognition and bonding. However, much less is known about its avian analogue, vasotocin, although vasotocin appears to modulate singing behaviour and agonistic interactions together with vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) in some songbirds. The objectives of our study were to compare the expression of vasotocin and VIP in brain nuclei hypothetised to be part of the social behavioural network, i.e. septal areas, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and medial preoptic nucleus (POM), in two songbird species in the wild: the blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) and European penduline tit (Remiz pendulinus). These two closely related passerine birds differ in their pair bonding and mating systems: blue tits are socially monogamous with extensive pair bond lasting for several months, whereas in the European penduline tit, pair bond is short and it dissolves during or after laying of the eggs. The two species did not differ in the distribution of vasotocin in the observed brain regions; however, VIP was more abundant in all three regions of penduline tits than in blue tits. We found a sex difference in favour of males in the distribution of vasotocin- and VIP-immunoreactive neurones, fibres and terminals in all three regions in penduline tits. In blue tits, such gender differences were only observed in the POM. The limited differences between the two species suggest that the levels of vasotocin and VIP in the socially relevant brain regions are likely influenced by many other social or environmental factors than just by differences in the duration of pair bonding. © 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.
PMID: 24776994 [PubMed - in process]
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10.Behav Neurosci. 2014 Apr;128(2):228-36. doi: 10.1037/a0035985.

Finding motifs in birdsong data in the presence of acoustic noise and temporal jitter.

Fantana AL1Kozhevnikov A2.Author information:
1Department of Psychology, Bowling Green State University.
2Department of Physics, Pennsylvania State University.


Here we present a novel approach to quickly and reliably find long (200 ms - 2 s) stereotyped sequences of sounds ("motifs") in acoustic recordings of birdsong. Robust and time-efficient identification of such sequences is a crucial first step in many studies ranging from development to neuronal basis of motor behavior. Accurately identifying motifs is usually hindered by the presence of animal-intrinsic variability in execution and tempo, and by extrinsic acoustic noise (e.g., movement artifacts, ambient noise). The algorithm we describe in this report has been optimized to work in bird species that sing stereotyped syllable sequences (such as the zebra finch), and requires minimal user involvement (∼5 min for over 1,000 motifs). Importantly, it is transparent and robust to the choice of parameters. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
PMID: 24773442 [PubMed - in process]
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11.Anim Cogn. 2014 Apr 27. [Epub ahead of print]

Wild robins (Petroica longipes) respond to human gaze.

Garland A1Low JArmstrong NBurns KC.Author information:
1School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington, 6140, New Zealand,


Gaze following and awareness of attentional cues are hallmarks of human and non-human social intelligence. Here, we show that the North Island robin (Petroica longipes), a food-hoarding songbird endemic to New Zealand, responds to human eyes. Robins were presented with six different conditions, in which two human experimenters altered the orientation or visibility of their body, head or eyes in relation to mealworm prey. One experimenter had visual access to the prey, and the second experimenter did not. Robins were then given the opportunity to 'steal' one of two mealworms presented by each experimenter. Robins responded by preferentially choosing the mealworm in front of the experimenter who could not see, in all conditions but one. Robins failed to discriminate between experimenters who were facing the mealworm and those who had their head turned 90° to the side. This may suggest that robins do not make decisions using the same eye visibility cues that primates and corvids evince, whether for ecological, experiential or evolutionary reasons.
PMID: 24770885 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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