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Thursday, 24 March 2016

What's new for 'birdRS' in PubMed. March Week 3, 2016 Latest Research News

PubMed Results

1. FEBS J. 2016 Mar 14. doi: 10.1111/febs.13710. [Epub ahead of print] 

Calcium channels in chicken sperm regulate motility and the acrosome reaction. 
Nguyen TM(1,)(2,)(3,)(4), Duittoz A(1,)(2,)(3), Praud C(5), Combarnous Y(1,)(2,)(3), Blesbois E(1,)(2,)(3). Author information: (1)INRA, UMR85 Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements, F-37380, Nouzilly, France. (2)CNRS, UMR7247, F-37380, Nouzilly, France. (3)Université François Rabelais de Tours, F-37000, Tours, France. (4)Quy Nhon University, VietNam. (5)INRA, UR083 Recherches Avicoles, F-37380, Nouzilly, France. 

Intracellular cytoplasmic calcium ([Ca(2+) ]i ) has an important regulatory role in gamete functions. The involved biochemical actors, however, are still unknown in birds, an animal class that has lost functional sperm-specific CatSper channels. In this report, we provide evidence for the presence and expression of different Ca(2+) channels in chicken sperm, including high voltage-activated channels (L and R-type), the Store Operated Ca(2+) channel (SOC) complex component Orai1, transient receptor potential channel (TRPC1) and inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3 R1). L and R-types channels were mainly localized in the acrosome and the midpiece, whereas T-type channels were not detected in chicken sperm. Orai1 was found in all compartments but with a weak, diffuse signal in the flagellum. TRCP1 was mainly localized in the acrosome and the midpiece, but was also identified with a weak, diffuse signal in the nucleus and the flagellum. IP3 R1 was mainly detected in the nucleus. The Ca(2+) channel inhibitors Nifedipine (L-type), SNX-482 (R-type), MRS-1845, 2-APB and YM-58483 (SOCs) decreased [Ca(2+) ]i sperm motility and acrosome reaction (AR) capability, with the SOC inhibitors most efficiently inhibiting these functions. Furthermore, we showed that Ca(2+) -mediated induction of AMPK phosphorylation was blocked by SOC inhibition. Our identification of important regulators of Ca(2+) signaling in bird sperm suggests that SOCs have a predominant role in gamete function, whereas T-type channels might not be involved. In addition, Ca(2+) entry via SOCs appears to be the most likely pathway for AMPK activation and consequent energy-requiring sperm functions such as motility and the AR. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. PMID: 26990886 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

2. Rev Med Virol. 2016 Mar 15. doi: 10.1002/rmv.1876. [Epub ahead of print] 

Sindbis virus as a human pathogen-epidemiology, clinical picture and pathogenesis. 
Adouchief S(1), Smura T(1), Sane J(2), Vapalahti O(1,)(3,)(4), Kurkela S(1,)(3). Author information: (1)Department of Virology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. (2)National institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, Finland. (3)Department of Virology and Immunology, HUSLAB, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland. (4)Department of Veterinary Biosciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. 

Sindbis virus (SINV; family Togaviridae, genus Alphavirus) is an enveloped RNA virus widely distributed in Eurasia, Africa, Oceania and Australia. SINV is transmitted among its natural bird hosts via mosquitoes. Human disease caused by SINV infection has been reported mainly in South Africa and in Northern Europe. Vector mosquito abundance affects the annual incidence of SINV infections with occasional outbreaks of up to 1500 patients. Symptoms include fever, malaise, rash and musculoskeletal pain. In a significant portion of patients the debilitating musculoskeletal symptoms persist for years. Chronic disease after SINV infection shares many features with autoimmune diseases. Currently there is no specific treatment available. Recently SINV infections have been detected outside the previously known distribution range. In this article we will summarize the current knowledge on epidemiology, clinical disease and pathogenesis of SINV infection in man. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. PMID: 26990827 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

3. Glob Chang Biol. 2016 Mar 17. doi: 10.1111/gcb.13283. [Epub ahead of print] 

Estimating indices of range shifts in birds using dynamic models when detection is imperfect. 
Clement MJ(1), Hines JE(1), Nichols JD(1), Pardieck KL(1), Ziolkowski DJ Jr(1). Author information: (1)United States Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, 20770. 

There is intense interest in basic and applied ecology about the effect of global change on current and future species distributions. Projections based on widely used static modeling methods implicitly assume that species are in equilibrium with the environment and that detection during surveys is perfect. We used multi-season correlated detection occupancy models, which avoid these assumptions, to relate climate data to distributional shifts of Louisiana Waterthrush in the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data. We summarized these shifts with indices of range size and position and compared them to the same indices obtained using more basic modeling approaches. Detection rates during point counts in BBS surveys were low, and models that ignored imperfect detection severely underestimated the proportion of area occupied and slightly overestimated mean latitude. Static models indicated Louisiana Waterthrush distribution was most closely associated with moderate temperatures, while dynamic occupancy models indicated that initial occupancy was associated with diurnal temperature ranges and colonization of sites was associated with moderate precipitation. Overall, the proportion of area occupied and mean latitude changed little during the 1997 to 2013 study period. Near-term forecasts of species distribution generated by dynamic models were more similar to subsequently observed distributions than forecasts from static-models. Occupancy models incorporating a finite mixture model on detection - a new extension to correlated detection occupancy models - were better supported and may reduce bias associated with detection heterogeneity. We argue that replacing phenomenological static models with more mechanistic dynamic models can improve projections of future species distributions. In turn, better projections can improve biodiversity forecasts, management decisions, and understanding of global change biology This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. PMID: 26990459 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

4. PLoS One. 2016 Mar 18;11(3):e0151099. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151099. 

Ultra-Rapid Vision in Birds. 
Boström JE(1), Dimitrova M(1,)(2), Canton C(1), Håstad O(3), Qvarnström A(1), Ödeen A(1,)(3). Author information: (1)Department of Animal Ecology, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, S-752 36, Uppsala, Sweden. (2)Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, S-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden. (3)Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7011, S-750 07, Uppsala, Sweden. 

Flying animals need to accurately detect, identify and track fast-moving objects and these behavioral requirements are likely to strongly select for abilities to resolve visual detail in time. However, evidence of highly elevated temporal acuity relative to non-flying animals has so far been confined to insects while it has been missing in birds. With behavioral experiments on three wild passerine species, blue tits, collared and pied flycatchers, we demonstrate temporal acuities of vision far exceeding predictions based on the sizes and metabolic rates of these birds. This implies a history of strong natural selection on temporal resolution. These birds can resolve alternating light-dark cycles at up to 145 Hz (average: 129, 127 and 137, respectively), which is ca. 50 Hz over the highest frequency shown in any other vertebrate. We argue that rapid vision should confer a selective advantage in many bird species that are ecologically similar to the three species examined in our study. Thus, rapid vision may be a more typical avian trait than the famously sharp vision found in birds of prey. PMID: 26990087 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

5. Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 18;6:23380. doi: 10.1038/srep23380. 

Pathobiological Characterization of a Novel Reassortant Highly Pathogenic H5N1 Virus Isolated in British Columbia, Canada, 2015. 
Berhane Y(1,)(2), Kobasa D(3,)(4), Embury-Hyatt C(1), Pickering B(1), Babiuk S(1,)(5), Joseph T(6), Bowes V(6), Suderman M(1), Leung A(3), Cottam-Birt C(1), Hisanaga T(1), Pasick J(1). Author information: (1)Canadian Food Inspection Agency, National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 3M4. (2)Department of Animal Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. (3)Public Health Agency of Canada, National Microbiology Laboratory, 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (4)Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. (5)Department of Immunology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. (6)Animal Health Centre, Ministry of Agriculture, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada V3G 2M3. 

In the current study, we describe the pathobiologic characteristics of a novel reassortant virus - A/chicken/BC/FAV-002/2015 (H5N1) belonging to clade that was isolated from backyard chickens in British Columbia, Canada. Sequence analyses demonstrate PB1, PA, NA and NS gene segments were of North American lineage while PB2, HA, NP and M were derived from a Eurasian lineage H5N8 virus. This novel virus had a 19 amino acid deletion in the neuraminidase stalk. We evaluated the pathogenic potential of this isolate in various animal models. The virus was highly pathogenic to mice with a LD50 of 10 plaque forming units (PFU), but had limited tissue tropism. It caused only subclinical infection in pigs which did result in seroconversion. This virus was highly pathogenic to chickens, turkeys, juvenile Muscovy ducks (Cairnia moschata foma domestica) and adult Chinese geese (Anser cynoides domesticus) causing a systemic infection in all species. The virus was also efficiently transmitted and resulted in mortality in naïve contact ducks, geese and chickens. Our findings indicate that this novel H5N1 virus has a wide host range and enhanced surveillance of migratory waterfowl may be necessary in order to determine its potential to establish itself in the wild bird reservoir. PMID: 26988892 [PubMed - in process] 

6. Parasitol Res. 2016 Mar 17. [Epub ahead of print] 

Occurrence of Mesocestoides canislagopodis (Rudolphi, 1810) (Krabbe, 1865) in mammals and birds in Iceland and its molecular discrimination within the Mesocestoides species complex. 
Skirnisson K(1), Jouet D(2), Ferté H(2), Nielsen ÓK(3). Author information: (1)Laboratory of Parasitology, Institute for Experimental Pathology, University of Iceland, Keldur, IS-112, Reykjavík, Iceland. (2)EA4688 « Vecpar », UFR de Pharmacie, Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, 51 rue Cognacq-Jay, 51096, Reims Cedex, France. (3)Icelandic Institute of Natural History, Urriðaholtsstræti 6-8, 210, Garðabær, Iceland. 

The life cycle of Mesocestoides tapeworms (Cestoda: Cyclophyllidea: Mesocestoididae) requires three hosts. The first intermediate host is unknown but believed to be an arthropod. The second intermediate host is a vertebrate. The primary definitive host is a carnivore mammal, or a bird of prey, that eats the tetrathyridium-infected second intermediate host. One representative of the genus, Mesocestoides canislagopodis, has been reported from Iceland. It is common in the arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) and has also been detected in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and cats (Felis domestica). Recently, scolices of a non-maturing Mesocestoides sp. have also been detected in gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) intestines, and tetrathyridia in the body cavity of rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta). We examined the taxonomic relationship of Mesocestoides from arctic fox, gyrfalcon, and rock ptarmigan using molecular methods, both at the generic level (D1 domain LSU ribosomal DNA) and at the specific level (cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and 12S mitochondrial DNA). All stages belonged to Mesocestoides canislagopodis. Phylogenetic analysis of the combined 12S-COI at the specific level confirmed that M. canislagopodis forms a distinct clade, well separated from three other recognized representatives of the genus, M. litteratus, M. lineatus, and M. corti/vogae. This is the first molecular description of this species. The rock ptarmigan is a new second intermediate host record, and the gyrfalcon a new primary definitive host record. However, the adult stage seemed not to be able to mature in the gyrfalcon, and successful development is probably restricted to mammalian hosts. PMID: 26984208 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

7. Avian Pathol. 2016 Mar 16:1-17. [Epub ahead of print] 

Efficacy of Avilamycin for the Prevention of Necrotic Enteritis Caused by a Pathogenic Strain of Clostridium perfringens in Broiler Chickens. 
Paradis MA(1), McMillan E(2), Bagg R(1), Vessie G(1), Zocche A(3), Thompson M(4). Author information: (1)a Elanco Animal Health , Division of Eli Lilly Canada Inc ., 150 Research Lane, Suite 120, Guelph , Ontario , Canada N1G 4T2. (2)b Nutreco Canada Agresearch , RR#3 473, Sixth Concession Road, Burford , Ontario , Canada N0E 1A0. (3)c Elanco Animal Health , 2500 Innovation Way, Greenfield , Indiana , United States 46140. (4)d Novometrix Research Inc ., 4564 Nassagaweya-Puslinch Townline, Moffat , Ontario , Canada L0P 1J0. 

The efficacy of avilamycin for the prevention of necrotic enteritis (NE) was investigated in a 35-day floor pen study of 2,200 broiler cockerels using a Clostridium perfringens (Cp) feed inoculum challenge model. Treatments consisted of 1) nonmedicated, nonchallenged; 2) nonmedicated, challenged; 3) avilamycin at 15 ppm, challenged; 4) avilamycin at 30 ppm, challenged. Avilamycin was administered in the feed from day 7 to day 30 of the study. Challenge inoculum was administered on day 14 and delivered approximately 10(9) CFU Cp/bird. Necrotic enteritis mortality rates from day 14-35 were significantly (P<0.0001) lower in birds treated with avilamycin at 15 and 30 ppm when compared to nonmedicated, challenged birds. Treatment with avilamycin also resulted in a significant reduction in ileal Cp count on day 21 (P<0.0001) and NE lesion scores on day 17 (P<0.006) when compared to nonmedicated, challenged birds. The performance of birds treated with avilamycin was also improved when compared to nonmedicated, challenged birds. Cockerels that received either 15 or 30 ppm avilamycin had a significantly (P<0.0001) increased body weight on day 35 and average daily gain from days 0-35 than nonmedicated, challenged birds. Furthermore, birds treated with avilamycin had an improved feed conversion rate from days 0-35 than both nonmedicated, nonchallenged birds and nonmedicated, challenged birds. This study confirms that avilamycin is effective at controlling mortality related to NE in growing broiler chickens. PMID: 26981841 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

8. J Wildl Dis. 2016 Mar 16. [Epub ahead of print] 

Hofmeister EK(1), Jankowski MD(1), Goldberg D(1), Franson JC(1). Author information: (1)1   U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, 6006 Schroeder Road, Madison, Wisconsin 53711, USA. 

Detection of West Nile virus (WNV) in ducks has been reported in North America in isolated cases of mortality in wild waterbirds and following outbreaks in farmed ducks. Although the virus has been noted as an apparent incidental finding in several species of ducks, little is known about the prevalence of exposure or the outcome of infection with WNV in wild ducks in North America. From 2004-06, we collected sera from 1,406 wild-caught American Wigeon ( Anas americana ), Mallard ( Anas platyrhynchos ), and Northern Pintail ( Anas acuta ) ducks at national wildlife refuges (NWRs) in North Dakota and Wood Ducks ( Aix sponsa ) at NWRs in South Carolina and Tennessee. We measured the prevalence of previous exposure to WNV in these ducks by measuring WNV antibodies and evaluated variation in exposure among species, age, and year. Additionally, we evaluated the performance of a commercial antibody to wild bird immunoglobulin in duck species that varied in their phylogenetic relatedness to the bird species the antibody was directed against. As determined by a screening immunoassay and a confirmatory plaque reduction neutralization assay, the prevalence of WNV antibody was 10%. In light of experimental studies that show ducks to be relatively resistant to mortality caused by WNV, the antibody prevalence we detected suggests that wild ducks may be less-frequently exposed to WNV than expected for birds inhabiting wetlands where they may acquire infection from mosquitoes. PMID: 26981693 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

9. J Wildl Dis. 2016 Mar 16. [Epub ahead of print] 

Hofmeister EK(1), Dusek RJ(1), Fassbinder-Orth C(2,)(3), Owen B(3), Franson JC(1). Author information: (1)1   US Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, 6006 Schroeder Road, Madison, Wisconsin 53711, USA. (2)2   University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA. (3)3   Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska 68178, USA. West Nile virus (WNV) spread to the US western plains states in 2003, when a significant mortality event attributed to WNV occurred in Greater Sage-grouse ( Centrocercus urophasianus ). 

The role of avian species inhabiting sagebrush in the amplification of WNV in arid and semiarid regions of the North America is unknown. We conducted an experimental WNV challenge study in Vesper Sparrows ( Pooecetes gramineus ), a species common to sagebrush and grassland habitats found throughout much of North America. We found Vesper Sparrows to be moderately susceptible to WNV, developing viremia considered sufficient to transmit WNV to feeding mosquitoes, but the majority of birds were capable of surviving infection and developing a humoral immune response to the WNV nonstructural 1 and envelope proteins. Despite clearance of viremia, after 6 mo, WNV was detected molecularly in three birds and cultured from one bird. Surviving Vesper Sparrows were resistant to reinfection 6 mo after the initial challenge. Vesper sparrows could play a role in the amplification of WNV in sagebrush habitat and other areas of their range, but rapid clearance of WNV may limit their importance as competent amplification hosts of WNV. PMID: 26981692 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

10. J Appl Ecol. 2016 Apr 1;53(2):511-518. Epub 2015 Dec 18. 

An introduced parasitic fly may lead to local extinction of Darwin's finch populations. 
Koop JA(1), Kim PS(2), Knutie SA(1), Adler F(3), Clayton DH(1). Author information: (1)Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. (2)Mathematics Department, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. (3)Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Mathematics Department, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. 

Introduced pathogens and other parasites are often implicated in host population level declines and extinctions. However, such claims are rarely supported by rigorous real-time data. Indeed, the threat of introduced parasites often goes unnoticed until after host populations have declined severely. The recent introduction of the parasitic nest fly, Philornis downsi, to the Galápagos Islands provides an opportunity to monitor the current impact of an invasive parasite on endemic land bird populations, including Darwin's finches.In this paper we present a population viability model to explore the potential long-term effect of P. downsi on Darwin's finch populations. The goal of our study was to determine whether P. downsi has the potential to drive host populations to extinction and whether management efforts are likely to be effective.Our model is based on data from five years of experimental field work documenting the effect of P. downsi on the reproductive success of medium ground finch Geospiza fortis populations on Santa Cruz Island. Under two of the three scenarios tested, the model predicted medium ground finches are at risk of extinction within the next century.However, sensitivity analyses reveal that even a modest reduction in the prevalence of the parasite could improve the stability of finch populations. We discuss the practicality of several management options aimed at achieving this goal.Synthesis and applications. Our study demonstrates the predicted high risk of local extinction of an abundant host species, the medium ground finch Geospiza fortis due to an introduced parasite, Philornis downsi. However, our study further suggests that careful management practices aimed at reducing parasite prevalence have the potential to significantly lower the risk of host species extinction. PMCID: PMC4788638 [Available on 2017-04-01] PMID: 26980922 [PubMed] 

11. Genome Biol Evol. 2016 Mar 14. pii: evw041. [Epub ahead of print] 

Whole genome identification, phylogeny and evolution of the cytochrome P450 family 2 (CYP2) sub-families in birds. 
Almeida D(1), Maldonado E(2), Khan I(1), Silva L(1), Gilbert MT(3), Zhang G(4), Jarvis ED(5), O'Brien SJ(6), Johnson WE(7), Antunes A(8). Author information: (1)CIIMAR/CIMAR, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto, Rua dos Bragas 177, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal. (2)CIIMAR/CIMAR, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto, Rua dos Bragas 177, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal. (3)Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Øster Volgade 5-7, 1350 Copenhagen, Denmark. (4)BGI-Shenzhen, Main Building 2#, Beishan Industrial Zoon, Yantian District, Shenzhen, China. (5)Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Neurobiology, Box 3209, Duke University Medical Center Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA. (6)Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia 199004. Oceanographic Center, 8000 N. Ocean Drive, USA; Nova Southeastern University, Ft Lauderdale, Florida 33004. (7)Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, 1500 Remount Road, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA. (8)CIIMAR/CIMAR, Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto, Rua dos Bragas 177, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal 

The cytochrome P450 (CYP) superfamily defends organisms from endogenous and noxious environmental compounds, and thus is crucial for survival. However, beyond mammals the molecular evolution of CYP2 subfamilies is poorly understood. Here, we characterized the CYP2 family across 48 novel avian whole genomes representing all major extant bird clades. Overall, 12 CYP2 subfamilies were identified, including the first description of the CYP2F, CYP2G and several CYP2AF genes in avian genomes. Some of the CYP2 genes previously described as being lineage-specific, such as CYP2K and CYP2W, are ubiquitous to all avian groups. Furthermore, we identified a large number of CYP2J copies, which have been associated previously with water reabsorption. We detected positive selection in the avian CYP2C, CYP2D, CYP2H, CYP2J, CYP2K and CYP2AC subfamilies. Moreover, we identified new substrate recognition sites (SRS0, SRS2_SRS3 and SRS3.1) and heme binding areas that influence CYP2 structure and function of functional importance as under significant positive selection. Some of the positively selected sites in avian CYP2D are located within the same SRS1 region that was previously linked with the metabolism of plant toxins. Additionally, we find that selective constraint variations in some avian CYP2 subfamilies are consistently associated with different feeding habits (CYP2H and CYP2J), habitats (CYP2D, CYP2H, CYP2J and CYP2K) and migratory behaviors (CYP2D, CYP2H and CYP2J). Overall, our findings indicate that there has been active enzyme site selection on CYP2 subfamilies and differential selection associated with different life history traits among birds. © The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. PMID: 26979796 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

12. G3 (Bethesda). 2016 Mar 14. pii: g3.116.027946. doi: 10.1534/g3.116.027946. [Epub ahead of print] 

Gene Regulatory Evolution During Speciation in a Songbird. 
Davidson JH(1), Balakrishnan CN(2). Author information: (1)East Carolina University. (2)East Carolina University 

Over the last decade tremendous progress has been made towards a comparative understanding of gene regulatory evolution. However, we know little about how gene regulation evolves in birds, and how divergent genomes interact in their hybrids. Because of the unique features of birds - female heterogamety, a highly conserved karyotype, and the slow evolution of reproductive incompatibilities - an understanding of regulatory evolution in birds is critical to a comprehensive understanding of regulatory evolution and its implications for speciation. Using a novel complement of analyses of replicated RNA-seq libraries, we demonstrate abundant divergence in brain gene expression between zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) subspecies. By comparing parental populations and their F1 hybrids, we also show that gene misexpression is relatively rare among brain-expressed transcripts in male birds. If this pattern is consistent across tissues and sexes, it may partially explain the slow buildup of postzygotic reproductive isolation observed in birds relative to other taxa. Although we expected that the action of genetic drift on the island-dwelling zebra finch subspecies would be manifested in a higher rate of trans regulatory divergence, we found that most divergence was in cis regulation, following a pattern commonly observed in other taxa. Thus our study highlights both unique and shared features of avian regulatory evolution. Copyright © 2016 Author et al. PMID: 26976438 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

13. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2016 Mar 12. pii: S1055-7903(16)00072-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.03.004. [Epub ahead of print] 

Diverse sampling of East African haemosporidians reveals chiropteran origin of malaria parasites in primates and rodents. 
Lutz HL(1), Patterson BD(2), Kerbis Peterhans JC(3), Stanley WT(2), Webala PW(4), Gnoske TP(2), Hackett SJ(2), Stanhope MJ(5). Author information: (1)Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States; Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States; Science & Education, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL 60605, United States; Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States. Electronic address: (2)Science & Education, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL 60605, United States. (3)Science & Education, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL 60605, United States; College of Professional Studies, Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL 60605, United States. (4)Department of Tourism and Wildlife Management, Maasai Mara University, Narok 20500, Kenya. (5)Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States. 

Phylogenies of parasites provide hypotheses on the history of their movements between hosts, leading to important insights regarding the processes of host switching that underlie modern-day epidemics. Haemosporidian (malaria) parasites lack a well resolved phylogeny, which has impeded the study of evolutionary processes associated with host-switching in this group. Here we present a novel phylogenetic hypothesis that suggests bats served as the ancestral hosts of malaria parasites in primates and rodents. Expanding upon current taxon sampling of Afrotropical bat and bird parasites, we find strong support for all major nodes in the haemosporidian tree using both Bayesian and maximum likelihood approaches. Our analyses support a single transition of haemosporidian parasites from saurian to chiropteran hosts, and do not support a monophyletic relationship between Plasmodium parasites of birds and mammals. We find, for the first time, that Hepatocystis and Plasmodium parasites of mammals represent reciprocally monophyletic evolutionary lineages. These results highlight the importance of broad taxonomic sampling when analyzing phylogenetic relationships, and have important implications for our understanding of key host switching events in the history of malaria parasite evolution. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. PMID: 26975691 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

14. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2016 Mar 4;6:26. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2016.00026. eCollection 2016. 

Identification of Biomarkers for Footpad Dermatitis Development and Wound Healing. 
Chen J(1), Tellez G(2), Escobar J(1). Author information: (1)Research and Development, Novus International Inc. St. Charles, MO, USA. (2)Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR, USA. 

Footpad dermatitis (FPD) is a type of skin inflammation that causes necrotic lesions on the plantar surface of the footpads in commercial poultry, with significant animal welfare, and economic implications. To identify biomarkers for FPD development and wound healing, a battery cage trial was conducted in which a paper sheet was put on the bottom of cages to hold feces to induce FPD of broilers. Day-of-hatch Ross 308 male broiler chicks were fed a corn-soybean meal diet and assigned to 3 treatments with 8 cages per treatment and 11 birds per cage. Cages without paper sheets were used as a negative control (NEG). Cages with paper sheets during the entire growth period (d 0-30) were used as a positive control (POS) to continually induce FPD. Cages with paper sheets during d 0-13 and without paper sheets during d 14-30 were used to examine the dynamic of FPD development and lesion wound healing (LWH). Footpad lesions were scored to grade (G) 1-5 with no lesion in G1 and most severe lesion in G5. Covering with paper sheets in POS and LWH induced 99% incidence of G3 footpads on d 13. Removing paper sheets from LWH healed footpad lesions by d 30. One representative bird, with lesions most close to pen average lesion score, was chosen to collect footpad skin samples for biomarker analysis. Total collagen protein and mRNA levels of tenascin X (TNX), type I α1 collagen (COL1A1), type III α1 collagen (COL3A1), tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (TIMP3), and integrin α1 (ITGA1) mRNA levels were decreased (P < 0.05), while mRNA levels of tenascin C (TNC), tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α, Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), IL-1β, and the ratio of MMP2 to all TIMP were increased (P < 0.03) in G3 footpads in POS and LWH compared to G1 footpads in NEG on d 14. These parameters continued to worsen with development of more severe lesions in POS. After paper sheets were removed (i.e., LWH), levels of these parameters gradually or rapidly returned to levels measured in NEG. Regression analysis indicated significant quadratic changes of these parameters to footpad lesion scores. In summary, these biomarkers were interrelated with dynamic changes of footpad lesion scores, suggesting they may be used as potential biomarkers for footpad lesion development and wound healing process. PMCID: PMC4777922 PMID: 26973819 [PubMed - in process] 

15. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2016 Mar 10. pii: S0016-6480(16)30058-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2016.03.013. [Epub ahead of print] 

The ecological and physiological bases of variation in the phenology of gonad growth in an urban and desert songbird. 
Davies S(1), Lane S(2), Meddle SL(3), Tsutsui K(4), Deviche P(2). Author information: (1)School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287, USA. Electronic address: (2)School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287, USA. (3)The Roslin Institute & Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9PS, UK. (4)Laboratory of Integrative Brain Sciences, Department of Biology and Center for Medical Life Science, Waseda University, Tokyo 162-8480, Japan. 

Birds often adjust to urban areas by advancing the timing (phenology) of vernal gonad growth. However, the ecological and physiological bases of this adjustment are unclear. We tested whether the habitat-related disparity in gonad growth phenology of male Abert's towhees, Melozone aberti, is due to greater food availability in urban areas of Phoenix, Arizona USA or, alternatively, a habitat-related difference in the phenology of key food types. To better understand the physiological mechanism underlying variation in gonad growth phenology, we compared the activity of the reproductive system at all levels of hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. We found no habitat-associated difference in food availability (ground arthropod biomass), but, in contrast to the seasonal growth of leaves on desert trees, the leaf foliage of urban trees was already developed at the beginning of our study. Multiple estimates of energetic status did not significantly differ between the non-urban and urban populations during three years that differed in the habitat-related disparity in gonad growth and winter precipitation levels. Thus, our results provide no support for the hypothesis that greater food abundance in urban areas of Phoenix drives the habitat-related disparity in gonad growth phenology in Abert's towhees. By contrast, they suggest that differences in the predictability and magnitude of change in food availability between urban and desert areas of Phoenix contribute to the observed habitat-related disparity in gonad growth. Endocrine responsiveness of the gonads may contribute to this phenomenon as desert - but not urban - towhees had a marked plasma T response to GnRH challenge. Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Inc. PMID: 26972152 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

16. Mar Pollut Bull. 2016 Mar 9. pii: S0025-326X(16)30120-5. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.02.069. [Epub ahead of print] 

Plastic mistaken for prey by a colony-breeding Eleonora's falcon (Falco eleonorae) in the Mediterranean Sea, revealed by camera-trap. Steen R(1), Torjussen CS(2), Jones DW(3), Tsimpidis T(3), Miliou A(3). Author information: (1)Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Science, P.O. Box 5003, 1432 Ås, Norway. Electronic address: (2)Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Science, P.O. Box 5003, 1432 Ås, Norway. (3)Archipelagos, Institute of Marine Conservation, Marine Research Base, P.O. Box 42, Pythagorio 83102, Samos, Greece. 

Discarded plastic is known to be harmful for marine animals through ingestion and entanglement. Here we report the first documentation of Eleonora's falcons providing plastic waste to dependent nestlings. Eleonora's falcons breed colonially on sea cliffs and islets in areas of the Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands in which they normally feed their nestlings exclusively with small migratory birds. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. PMID: 26971232 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

17. Sci Total Environ. 2016 Mar 10;556:80-88. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.02.205. [Epub ahead of print] 

Persistent organic pollutant and mercury concentrations in eggs of ground-nesting marine birds in the Canadian high Arctic. 
Peck LE(1), Gilchrist HG(2), Mallory CD(3), Braune BM(2), Mallory ML(4). Author information: (1)Department of Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia B4P 2R6, Canada. (2)Environment Canada, National Wildlife Research Centre, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H3, Canada. (3)Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut, Iqaluit, Nunavut X0A 0H0, Canada. (4)Department of Biology, Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia B4P 2R6, Canada. Electronic address: 

We collected eggs of eight marine bird species from several colony sites in the Canadian high Arctic located at approximately 76°N and analyzed them for concentrations of legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury. We provide the first report on concentrations of POPs in eggs of three Arctic species (Thayer's gull Larus thayeri, Sabine's gull Xema sabini, Ross's Gull Rhodostethia rosea), and we found significant differences in each of the POP profiles among the five species with sufficient data for statistical comparisons (Thayer's gull, black guillemot Cepphus grylle, Sabine's gull, Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea and common eider Somateria mollissima borealis). The Ross's Gull had unexpectedly high POP concentrations relative to the other species examined, although this was based on a single egg, while glaucous gull Larus hyperboreus eggs from our sampling location had very low POPs. Sabine's gulls had the lowest Hg of the eggs studied, consistent with their low trophic position, but concentrations of their legacy POPs were higher than expected. We also noted that total hexachlorocyclohexanes were higher than reported elsewhere in the circumpolar Arctic in three species. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. PMID: 26971212 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher] 

18. Malar J. 2016 Mar 11;15(1):154. doi: 10.1186/s12936-016-1198-5. 

A method to preserve low parasitaemia Plasmodium-infected avian blood for host and vector infectivity assays. 
Carlson JS(1), Giannitti F(2,)(3,)(4), Valkiūnas G(5), Tell LA(6), Snipes J(6), Wright S(7), Cornel AJ(8,)(9). Author information: (1)Mosquito Control Research Laboratory, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Kearney Agriculture Center, University of California, Parlier, Davis, USA. (2)Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Veterinary Population Medicine Department, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, USA. (3)Instituto Nacional de Investigación Agropecuaria, La Estanzuela, Colonia, Uruguay. (4)California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, USA. (5)Nature Research Centre, Akademijos 2, 08412, Vilnius, Lithuania. (6)Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, USA. (7)Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito Vector and Control District, Elk Grove, USA. (8)Mosquito Control Research Laboratory, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Kearney Agriculture Center, University of California, Parlier, Davis, USA. (9)Vector Genetics Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, Davis, USA. 

BACKGROUND: Avian malaria vector competence studies are needed to understand more succinctly complex avian parasite-vector-relations. The lack of vector competence trials may be attributed to the difficulty of obtaining gametocytes for the majority of Plasmodium species and lineages. To conduct avian malaria infectivity assays for those Plasmodium spp. and lineages that are refractory to in vitro cultivation, it is necessary to obtain and preserve for short periods sufficient viable merozoites to infect naïve donor birds to be used as gametocyte donors to infect mosquitoes. Currently, there is only one described method for long-term storage of Plasmodium spp.-infected wild avian blood and it is reliable at a parasitaemia of at least 1 %. However, most naturally infected wild-caught birds have a parasitaemia of much less that 1 %. To address this problem, a method for short-term storage of infected wild avian blood with low parasitaemia (even ≤0.0005 %) has been explored and validated. METHODS: To obtain viable infective merozoites, blood was collected from wild birds using a syringe containing the anticoagulant and the red blood cell preservative citrate phosphate dextrose adenine solution (CPDA). Each blood sample was stored at 4 °C for up to 48 h providing sufficient time to determine the species and parasitaemia of Plasmodium spp. in the blood by morphological examination before injecting into donor canaries. Plasmodium spp.-infected blood was inoculated intravenously into canaries and once infection was established, Culex stigmatosoma, Cx. pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes were then allowed to feed on the infected canaries to validate the efficacy of this method for mosquito vector competence assays. RESULTS: Storage of Plasmodium spp.-infected donor blood at 4 °C yielded viable parasites for 48 h. All five experimentally-infected canaries developed clinical signs and were infectious. Pathologic examination of three canaries that later died revealed splenic lesions typical of avian malaria infection. Mosquito infectivity assays demonstrated that Cx. stigmatosoma and Cx. pipiens were competent vectors for Plasmodium cathemerium. CONCLUSIONS: A simple method of collecting and preserving avian whole blood with malaria parasites of low parasitaemia (≤0.0005 %) was developed that remained viable for further experimental bird and mosquito infectivity assays. This method allows researchers interested in conducting infectivity assays on target Plasmodium spp. to collect these parasites directly from nature with minimal impact on wild birds. PMCID: PMC4787182 PMID: 26969510 [PubMed - in process] 

19. Genet Sel Evol. 2015 Sep 28;47:75. doi: 10.1186/s12711-015-0152-2. 

Predicting direct and indirect breeding values for survival time in laying hens using repeated measures. 
Brinker T(1), Ellen ED(2), Veerkamp RF(3), Bijma P(4). Author information: (1)Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen UR, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands. (2)Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen UR, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands. (3)Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen UR, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands. (4)Animal Breeding and Genomics Centre, Wageningen UR, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands. 

BACKGROUND: Minimizing bird losses is important in the commercial layer industry. Selection against mortality is challenging because heritability is low, censoring is high, and individual survival depends on social interactions among cage members. With cannibalism, mortality depends not only on an individual's own genes (direct genetic effects; DGE) but also on genes of its cage mates (indirect genetic effects; IGE). To date, studies using DGE-IGE models have focussed on survival time but their shortcomings are that censored records were considered as exact lengths of life and models assumed that IGE were continuously expressed by all cage members even after death. However, since dead animals no longer express IGE, IGE should ideally be time-dependent in the model. Neglecting censoring and timing of IGE expression may reduce accuracy of estimated breeding values (EBV). Thus, our aim was to improve prediction of breeding values for survival time in layers that present cannibalism. METHODS: We considered four DGE-IGE models to predict survival time in layers. One model was an analysis of survival time and the three others treated survival in consecutive months as a repeated binomial trait (repeated measures models). We also tested whether EBV were improved by including timing of IGE expression in the analyses. Approximate EBV accuracies were calculated by cross-validation. The models were fitted to survival data on two purebred White Leghorn layer lines W1 and WB, each having monthly survival records over 13 months. RESULTS: Including the timing of IGE expression in the DGE-IGE model reduced EBV accuracy compared to analysing survival time. EBV accuracy was higher when repeated measures models were used. However, there was no universal best model. Using repeated measures instead of analysing survival time increased EBV accuracy by 10 to 21 and 2 to 12 % for W1 and WB, respectively. We showed how EBV and variance components estimated with repeated measures models can be translated into survival time. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that prediction of breeding values for survival time in laying hens can be improved using repeated measures models. This is an important result since more accurate EBV contribute to higher rates of genetic gain. PMCID: PMC4587788 PMID: 26416791 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Journal of Ornithology: Volume 157, Issue 2, April 2016

Journal of Ornithology

Volume 157, Issue 2, April 2016

Original Article

From eggs to fledging: negative impact of urban habitat on reproduction in two tit species
Juliette Bailly , Renaud Scheifler, Sarah Berthe, Valérie-Anne Clément-Demange, Matthieu Leblond, Baptiste Pasteur, Bruno Faivre

The exploration of the effects of urbanization on bird demography has attracted much attention, and several studies found lower reproductive success in towns, which suggested strong environmental constraints. Here, we conducted a 3-year study to explore the consequences of urbanization on the breeding success of two species that originated in forests, the Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus and the Great Tit Parus major. In two replicates of urban and forest habitats, we studied the components of reproductive success. In one replicate of each habitat, we quantified nestling growth over the three breeding seasons, and we collected data on egg quality during one breeding season. The general picture that emerges from our finding is that in urban sites breeding success was lower with smaller clutch sizes, higher clutch, higher brood failure rates and lower survival rates. Our results also showed reduced growth in urban habitats, at the embryonic and nestling stages, with potential adverse consequences on fitness. Crucial ecological factors could explain the observed contrasts between the habitats, and food limitation is among the most likely. Overall, we demonstrated the negative effects of urbanization on the reproductive success of forest birds, and our results were consistent between species and geographic areas for these negative effects. Our results suggest a mismatch between urban environments and the habitat exploitation abilities that birds have evolved in their native forest ecosystems.

Nest-site selection and consequences for nest survival among three sympatric songbirds in an alpine environment
Elizabeth C. MacDonald , Alaine F. Camfield, Michaela Martin, Scott Wilson, Kathy Martin

We examined timing of breeding, nest site selection and nest survival of Horned Larks (Eremophila alpestris), Savannah Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) and American Pipits (Anthus rubescens) in an alpine habitat on Hudson Bay Mountain, BC, Canada in 2003–2007. These species partitioned their nesting niches temporally and spatially. We compared nest site characteristics among species using one-way ANOVA and logistic regression. Horned Larks (n = 103 nests) initiated breeding 2 weeks earlier (mean = 1 June) than Savannah Sparrows (n = 52, mean = 14 June) and American Pipits (n = 38, mean = 11 June). Horned Larks and American Pipits nested at similar elevations (means = 1714 and 1719 m, respectively); however, lark nests were more exposed (greater bare ground, rock and lichen/moss cover), with minimal nest concealment, while pipit nests, built into banks and soil mounds, had high concealment. Savannah Sparrows nested at lower elevation (mean = 1649 m) with greater dead vegetative cover. We assessed intraspecific habitat preferences for Horned Larks and Savannah Sparrows using logistic regression; both species chose nest sites with greater availability of their preferred habitat characteristics. We used model selection to evaluate effects of nest site characteristics, nest age, season and year on daily nest survival (DNS). Horned Larks displayed the lowest DNS of 0.954 ± 0.009 (n = 189 nests), which varied with year, season and nest age, but was not influenced by site characteristics. In contrast, DNS was highest for Savannah Sparrows (0.961 ± 0.014, n = 89) with strong responses to nest concealment, year and nest age. American Pipits exhibited an intermediate DNS (0.959 ± 0.009, n = 38), which varied with overhead concealment and elevation. Despite the simple structure of the alpine habitat, there was significant niche differentiation in nest site choices among these species. Preferences for nest concealment were positively related to nest survival in Savannah Sparrows and American Pipits but not Horned Larks, indicating how a common environment can differentially influence behavior and demography.

Populations on the limits: survival of Svalbard rock ptarmigan
Sigmund Unander , Åshild Ø. Pedersen  , Eeva M. Soininen, Sebastien Descamps, Maria Hörnell-Willebrand, Eva Fuglei

Predictable variation in demographic patterns among populations inhabiting extreme environments can be used to direct common management actions. Ptarmigan and other grouse are ecologically important herbivores in Arctic and alpine areas, but survival estimates are lacking for many harvested populations. This hampers more detailed assessment of how this key determinant of population growth rate is related to environmental variability and whether there is predictable between–population variation. In this article, we estimated apparent survival by age and sex of the endemic high-Arctic Svalbard rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta hyperborea) using a 6-year mark–recapture dataset from the west coast of Spitsbergen (1980–1986). Second, we tested whether seasonal climatic variability explained temporal variation in adult survival rates. Within the Svalbard rock ptarmigan population, annual adult survival did not differ between the sexes, but varied among locations. Temporal variation in adult survival was limited and could not be explained by climatic variability. A review of inter-population comparisons of vital rates (survival and reproduction) of rock ptarmigan populations suggested that the high-Arctic, low-elevation Svalbard rock ptarmigan populations resemble their low-Arctic counterparts, and settles at the ‘low survival–high reproduction’ end of the ‘slow–fast continuum’. The demographic traits of high-Arctic ptarmigan contrast with the ‘high survival–low reproduction’ of rock ptarmigan populations at low latitudes and high elevations. Our study demonstrated that spatial variation in survival rates exists both within and between Svalbard rock ptarmigan populations. We suggest that further studies focus on ecological gradients underlying the spatial variation of life history and thus shape the population dynamics and long-term resilience.

Extracting historical population trends using archival ringing data—an example: the globally threatened Aquatic Warbler
Martins Briedis, Oskars Keišs 

Understanding how animal population size changes over time is one of the key means to identify threats and facilitate the successful implementation of conservation measures. The globally endangered Aquatic Warbler has undergone a major decline throughout its range. While in the first half of the 20th century, it was still an abundant species across major parts of Central and Western Europe, over the last century the size of its European population is considered to have declined by more than 90 %. However, little is known of the historical changes in its population size. Here we model the past population size of the Aquatic Warbler using historical ringing records of European ringing schemes and population monitoring software (TRends for Indices and Monitoring). We found that during the short 30-year period between 1950 and 1980 the European Aquatic Warbler population underwent a dramatic 95 % decline. According to this model, the population has recently been stable, no further decline was observed between 1980 and the late 1990s.

Survival of Sooty Falcons (Falco concolor) breeding in Oman
M. J. McGrady , W. A. Al Fazari, M. H. Al Jahdhami, J. E. Hines, M. K. Oli

Although the Middle East supports a high level of avian biodiversity, the ecology of relatively few species that use the region has been studied in detail. Despite its restricted breeding distribution in the Middle East, and apparent unfavorable conservation status, little is known about the population ecology of the Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor), one of only two falcon species that breeds in the boreal summer. We applied multi-state models to capture–mark–recapture data collected during 2007–2014 in the Sultanate of Oman to estimate, for the first time, the probabilities of capture, age-specific breeding probabilities, and state-specific apparent survival for Sooty Falcon. Capture probability for breeding adults (±1SE) was 0.443 ± 0.088. Annual apparent survival probability for pre-breeders and for breeding adults was 0.570 ± 0.048 and 0.656 ± 0.069, respectively. The probability that 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old falcons returned as breeders was 0.065 ± 0.036, 0.159 ± 0.069, and 0.339 ± 0.211, respectively. In 2013, we radio-tagged five fledgling falcons, and monitored their fates using satellite-based tracking. All initiated their first migration and survived for 48 days following radio-tagging, but four of the five birds died by 70 days post-tagging; only one survived >100 days. Our results suggest that only about 12 % of fledglings survive to the average age of first breeding (~3.8 years), and that most of first-year mortality occurs during their first migration or soon after they reach their destination. Low apparent survival of pre-breeders could result in low recruitment to the breeding population, and population declines. A comprehensive population-level assessment is urgently needed to accurately determine the status of Sooty Falcons, and to devise flyway-scale conservation plans.

Shared space, individually used: spatial behaviour of non-breeding ravens (Corvus corax) close to a permanent anthropogenic food source
Matthias-Claudio Loretto , Sabrina Reimann, Richard Schuster, Dana Marie Graulich, Thomas Bugnyar

Natal dispersal is a well-studied phenomenon that can be divided into three stages: (1) starting from an area, (2) wandering to another area and (3) either settling in that area to breed or merely temporarily stopping there before continuing to wander. During the third phase, we can distinguish breeders from non-breeders, which may show similar or different patterns of space use. Breeding Common Ravens are territorial year-round; non-breeders are highly vagrant but may gather at food sources and night roosts for varying lengths of time. In contrast to the wandering phase, little is known about the space use of ravens at such “stop” sites. Here, we used radio telemetry to investigate the space use of 21 non-breeding ravens in the Austrian Alps during a stop stage at an anthropogenic food source. The tagged ravens were present in 69.2 % of the relocation attempts. They used only 27.0 ha (range 6.7–59.7 ha, 95 % utilisation distribution) of the study area, and their activity ranges strongly overlapped with each other. However, within this shared space, sub/adult non-breeders could be found at individually distinct locations, while juveniles showed similar spatial distributions. These results, combined with reported long-distance movements, underline the high behavioural flexibility of non-breeding ravens, which may be a reason for their success in very different habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Variation in parental care in the spectacled tyrant Hymenops perspicillatus is associated with increased nest predation in grassland fragments
Matías G. Pretelli , Juan P. Isacch, Daniel A. Cardoni

Predation risk on birds is often an important source of natural selection that shapes parental care and may promote behavioral changes. Parents can often estimate certain risks and adjust their behavior to reduce the likelihood of nest predation. The fragmentation of habitats is one of the main consequences of loss of habitats, and in general, for birds breeding in smaller patches, their daily nest-survival rate is lower due to increased nest predation. Since nest survival is an estimate of predation risk in the environment, we evaluated the daily survival rate (DSR) for nests of spectacled tyrants (Hymenops perspicillatus) and parental care behavior on fragmented and unfragmented grasslands. We conducted nest searching and monitoring during the 2012–2013 breeding season in small patches and in a continuous patch of grassland. In addition, parental activity was recorded using video monitoring. We found a lower DSR for the spectacled tyrant in fragmented grasslands, associated with increased nest predation risk; females showed a variation in parental care. This variation was evidenced by larger incubation bouts and lower visitation rate during the incubation period, and by a lower food delivery rate to nestlings, compensated by larger prey sizes. The results show that fragmentation not only reduces the fitness of individuals and impacts adversely on population, but individuals are also subjected to a strong selection pressure, and their reproductive success may depend to some extent on the ability of parents to estimate at least certain predation risk and adjust their behavior in this regard.

Common Cuckoo home ranges are larger in the breeding season than in the non-breeding season and in regions of sparse forest cover
Heather M. Williams , Mikkel Willemoes, Raymond H. G. Klaassen, Roine Strandberg, Kasper Thorup

Knowledge of species’ habitat requirements can be gained from studying individual variation in home range size, under the assumption that larger home ranges reflect increased resource needs or decreased habitat quality. We used satellite telemetry to delineate home ranges of South Scandinavian Common Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) throughout their annual cycle. Annual stage (breeding or non-breeding period) and percentage of forest cover were good predictors of home range size. Average breeding season home ranges were ten times as large as those of non-breeding home ranges, suggesting strong temporal variation in the birds’ resource needs, and perhaps lower habitat quality in the breeding range compared to the African part of their annual range. Furthermore, although the Cuckoos rarely chose a home range with complete forest cover, we found a significant negative relationship between forest cover and home range area. This suggests that heterogeneous landscapes which include some dense forest cover constitute important habitat for Cuckoos, and that the continuing trend of forest loss in tropical Africa could reduce habitat quality for the Cuckoo in the non-breeding season.

Habitat fragmentation effects and variations in repertoire size and degree of song sharing among close Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus duponti populations
Cristian Pérez-Granados , Tomasz Osiejuk, Germán Manuel López-Iborra

We describe the song type repertoire variation and degree of song sharing in three isolated and declining Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) populations located close to each other in eastern Spain, studied over two years. We found no differences between sites either in song rate or individual repertoire size. We detected great differences in song type diversity at the population level, ranging from five to 18 song types. We used, for the first time, the SIMPROF test, a method that objectively discriminates significant groups resulting from agglomerative clustering methods, to study geographic variation in bird song. We found four microdialects in the study area with a low degree of song sharing among populations, which may be related to the influence of habitat fragmentation and the song learning process and ecology of the species. We detected different patterns of song sharing among sites. All males of two populations shared about 80–100 % of their song types throughout the habitat patch. At the other site, we found two microdialects within the same habitat patch, where song types were only shared among neighbouring males. The high degree of song sharing found can be explained by the reduced dispersal movements of the species. We also detected a high consistency in the song types between years. The creation of corridors and habitat management in potential habitat patches surrounding Dupont’s Lark populations could act as stepping-stones, improving the connection between populations and thereby song transmission between patches.

Population genomics of Sociable Weavers Philetairus socius reveals considerable admixture among colonies
Gavin M. Leighton , Sebastian Echeverri

The evolution of sociality often leads to genetic structuring among groups and alters the evolutionary forces that the groups experience. Describing the genetic structuring of social species is, therefore, necessary to understand the selective forces that act on a species. While recent work has used genomic methods to investigate population structure in eusocial insects, relatively little genomic work has examined population structure in the largest non-human mammal and avian clades. We delimited population genetic structuring in Sociable Weavers (Philetairus socius), a passerine that lives in large, stable, perennial colonies, using the genotyping-by-sequencing approach to generate a dataset of several thousand SNPs. We used the SNPs to estimate genetic structuring within and among eight nests. While we document relatively low levels of genetic structuring among nests, the structuring was not explained by distance between nests. We also found significantly higher structuring among male Sociable Weavers compared to female weavers, suggesting that female Sociable Weavers are more prone to dispersal in this species. Not all nests represent distinct genetic groups according to Bayesian clustering analysis, which is unsurprising given the low differentiation among nests, especially compared to other social species. In almost all colonies there was less heterozygosity than expected, possibly due to reproductive skew within each colony.

Molecular cloning and 3D structure prediction of myoglobin and cytoglobin in Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Lina Wu, Yanfeng Sun, Mo Li, Yaqing Li, Yao Yao, Xuelu Liu, Yinchao Hao, Dongming Li , Yuefeng Wu 

In vertebrates, myoglobin (Mb) and cytoglobin (Cygb) are closest relatives in the family of globins, which are heme-containing proteins that can bind gaseous molecules. Mb acts not only as an O2 transporter but also a nitric oxide (NO) scavenger in cardiac and striated muscle. Cygb has been suggested to play important functions in lipid-based signaling processes, defense against reactive oxygen species (ROS), and nitric oxide (NO) metabolism, and it is present in a variety of cell types. However, little information about the structures and functions of Mb and Cygb is known in birds. Here, we cloned the full-length open reading frames (ORFs) of the two globins in Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus). The Mb ORF cDNA contains 465 base pairs (bp) encoding 154 amino acids (aa), and the Cygb ORF cDNA contains 540 bp encoding 179 aa. Our results show that the amino acid sequences and three-dimensional (3D) structures of Mb and Cygb are highly conserved in vertebrate species. Interestingly, two specific substitutions were detected in Cygb compared with other vertebrates, which resulted in slight variation of the 3D conformation (e.g., distance between Tyr H16 and Lys G8, the strength of hydrogen bonds, and angles between the G–H helices). Our results may contribute to further understanding the structures, properties, and functions of Mb and Cygb as well as the potential mechanisms of oxygen utilization pathways in vertebrates.

Complete mitochondrial genomes render the Night Heron genus Gorsachius non-monophyletic
Xiaoping Zhou, Chengte Yao, Qingxian Lin, Wenzhen Fang , Xiaolin Chen 

In the present study, the complete mitochondrial genomes of three Night Herons from the genus Gorsachius were sequenced. All the complete mitochondrial genomes in this genus exhibit duplications in the region between cytochrome b and 12S ribosomal RNA. In Gorsachius magnificus, the duplicated regions span from the last 108 base pairs of cytochrome b to the control region, which are nearly identical to each other in nucleotide sequences, suggesting they are evolving in concert. In G. goisagi and G. melanolophus, the duplicated control regions were nearly identical in majority portions within each individual, while the first tRNA Pro -ND6-tRNA Glu and the second Cytb-tRNA Thr regions have degenerated into non-coding regions. Phylogenetic analyses with Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood based on the nucleotide sequences of two ribosomal RNA genes and 12 protein coding genes indicate that G. magnificus is not monophyletic with the other two Gorsachius species. These new results provide the fundamental basis for further studies to elucidate their phylogenetic positions and relationships with other genera within the subfamily Ardeinae.

Measuring difference in edge avoidance in grassland birds: the Corncrake is less sensitive to hedgerow proximity than passerines
Aurélien G. Besnard , Yoan Fourcade  , Jean Secondi

Edge avoidance is an important feature of habitat selection in grassland birds, as their density is usually reduced close to habitat boundaries. In many extensively managed European grasslands, fragmentation is caused by the presence of wooded hedgerows dividing meadows. Comparing the magnitude of hedgerow avoidance by co-occurring species is essential for the management of grassland areas and the implementation of efficient conservation schemes. We quantified hedgerow avoidance by the Corncrake and four grassland passerines in western France. As expected, all species avoided hedgerows, but the effect was less pronounced for the Corncrake. We hypothesize that this may reflect a lower predation risk towards the larger and most inconspicuous species. Alternatively, social communication in Corncrakes may be less impeded by wooded vegetation than in passerines. However, the mechanisms responsible for the observed pattern remain uncertain. Nevertheless, our study provides a general technique that can be applied to measure boundary avoidance. This information is important for policymakers in their efforts to improve management guidelines, which often do not take edge effects into account.

High prevalence of Leucocytozoon parasites in fresh water breeding gulls
Magdalena Zagalska-Neubauer , Staffan Bensch

Seabirds are regarded as a group of species with relatively low levels or even complete lack of blood parasites. We used PCR to amplify a DNA fragment from the cytochrome b gene of the parasites to search for infections of the genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon in individuals of two sympatrically breeding gull species, the Herring Gull Larus argentatus, the Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans and their hybrids. Out of 56 analysed individuals, 53 (95 %) were identified as infected with Leucocytozoon, whereas three individuals carried double and triple infections with at least one Leucocytozoon and one Plasmodium lineages. No Haemoproteus lineage was detected. The most common lineage (LARCAC02), for the first time reported here, was found in 51 (96 %) of all infected birds, and 14 gulls carried two Leucocytozoon lineages. We analysed the evolutionary relationship of Leucocytozoon lineages from the Herring and Caspian Gull and other bird species. Our results show that (1) the two identified Leucocytozoon lineages are not closely related as they belong to two distinctly different clusters. Moreover, (2) seabirds breeding inland could be highly infected with blood parasites and (3) this high prevalence is probably associated with areas where parasite vectors are abundant. Further studies should explore the importance of environmental factors affecting parasite prevalence, in particular within species comparisons under different environment conditions, including vector monitoring and sampling.

Avian haemosporidian prevalence and its relationship to host life histories in eastern Tennessee
Alix E. Matthews, Vincenzo A. Ellis, Alison A. Hanson, Jackson R. Roberts, Robert E. Ricklefs, Michael D. Collins 

Haemosporidian parasites (genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) are common blood parasites of birds transmitted by dipteran insect vectors. We analyzed blood samples from 329 individuals of 43 bird species in eastern Tennessee to better understand the relationship between the local community of birds and their blood parasites, including the distribution of parasites across hosts and the underlying ecological factors and life -history traits that influence parasite prevalence across host species. Using molecular methods, we found 144 individuals of 25 species to be infected with haemosporidian parasites (overall prevalence of 44 %). We distinguished 22 genetic lineages, including 11 in the genus Haemoproteus and 11 in Plasmodium. Fourteen percent of infected individuals harbored more than one parasite lineage. Across species, total prevalence increased with local abundance and decreased with incubation period, but did not vary with nesting or foraging height, average annual survival of host species, migratory or flocking behavior, sexual dimorphism, average species mass, or among sites. The prevalence of Haemoproteus was higher in species that nest 1–5 m above ground than in species that nest below 1 m or above 5 m, and the prevalence of Plasmodium was marginally higher in species with open-cup nests. Infection status did not vary with age, sex, or body condition. Our research reveals substantial variation in prevalence and richness of haemosporidian parasites, some of which is related to specific avian life history traits.

First molecular study of prevalence and diversity of avian haemosporidia in a Central California songbird community
Erika L. Walther , Jenny S. Carlson, Anthony Cornel, Brett K. Morris, Ravinder N. M. Sehgal

We studied avian haemosporidian parasites of the genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon in a riparian songbird community in Central California, USA, over a period of 2 years. We sequenced a well-characterized region of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene to identify the prevalence and diversity of these parasites from 399 birds. Of the 39.8 % of birds infected with haemosporidian parasites, most (30.8 %) were infected with Plasmodium. We identified 35 lineages, including 13 from the Plasmodium genus, 12 from Haemoproteus, and 10 from Leucocytozoon, 14 of which were novel lineages. In addition, we provide the first report of haemosporidian infections in 13 host species. Plasmodium prevalence ranged widely among host species from 0.0 to 68.6 %. We identified 2 Plasmodium lineages that were generalists, infecting multiple species across several families. One Plasmodium species, P. homopolare, was found in 84 individual birds representing 9 host species from 5 families, but primarily from Emberizidae. This is the first avian haemosporidian study utilizing molecular methods in California, which increases our understanding of the diversity and prevalence of avian haemosporidia affecting Passeriformes in this region and beyond.

Shell thinning due to embryo development in eggs of a small passerine bird
Grzegorz Orłowski , Lucyna Hałupka, Ewelina Klimczuk, Hanna Sztwiertnia

Over four study years we have investigated hatching success and failure, the presence of an embryo and other egg biometrics, and eggshell thickness of the Eurasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus. Of 1354 eggs from 350 nests, 940 (69.4 %) survived until hatching, of which 159 (16.9 %) were incubated but failed to hatch, while 273 (20.2 % of all) were in nests destroyed during incubation. Of 161 intact unhatched eggs from 97 nests, 64 (39.8 %) had no visible embryo and 88 (54.7 %) had a visible embryo. Eggs without visible embryos were present in 42.7 % of normally incubated clutches; among deserted clutches over 50 % had no visible embryo. Eggshell thickness at the egg equator (the widest part) was negatively correlated with clutch size and the presence of an embryo. A similar relationship was found for the blunt end of the eggs but was not statistically significant. Shells at the equator of eggs with visible embryos were significantly thinner (on average 8.0 % less) than the shells of eggs without embryos. Our study clearly implies that shell thickness decreases in the course of embryonic development. It also indicates that comparison of eggshell thickness data without controlling for the presence of an embryo in eggs can produce biased results, and may, therefore, fail to identify the actual causes of eggshell thinning. Our findings also suggest that shell thickness at the blunt end is a reliable estimator of shell thickness, irrespective of embryonic development.

Spatial effects of artificial feeders on hummingbird abundance, floral visitation and pollen deposition
Jesper Sonne , Peter Kyvsgaard, Pietro Kiyoshi Maruyama, Jeferson Vizentin-Bugoni, Jeff Ollerton, Marlies Sazima, Carsten Rahbek, Bo Dalsgaard

Providing hummingbirds with artificial feeders containing sugar solution is common practice throughout the Americas. Although feeders can affect hummingbird foraging behavior and abundance, it is poorly understood how far this effect may extend. Moreover, it remains debated whether nectar-feeders have a negative impact on hummingbird-pollinated plants by reducing flower visitation rates and pollen transfer close to the feeders. Here, we investigated the effects of distance to nectar-feeders on a local hummingbird assemblage and the pollination of Psychotria nuda (Rubiaceae), a hummingbird-pollinated plant endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest. At increasing distance (0–1000 m) from a feeding-station, where hummingbirds have been fed continuously for the past 13 years, we quantified hummingbird abundance, and rates of flower visitation and pollen deposition on P. nuda. We found that hummingbird abundance was unrelated to distance from the feeders beyond ca. 75 m, but increased steeply closer to the feeders; the only exception was the small hummingbird Phaethornis ruber, which remained absent from the feeders. Plants of P. nuda within ca.125 m from the feeders received increasingly more visits, coinciding with the higher hummingbird abundance, whereas visitation rate beyond 125 m showed no distance-related trend. Despite this, pollen deposition was not associated with distance from the feeders. Our findings illustrate that artificial nectar-feeders may locally increase hummingbird abundance, and possibly affect species composition and pollination redundancy, without necessarily having a disruptive effect on pollination services and plants’ reproductive fitness. This may apply not only to hummingbirds, but also to other animal pollinators.

Physiological conditions influence stopover behaviour of short-distance migratory passerines
Sara Lupi , Wolfgang Goymann, Massimiliano Cardinale, Leonida Fusani

During migration, birds spend more than 80 % of the time at stopover sites to rest and refuel before and after crossing ecological barriers such as deserts or seas. Since stopover has intrinsic costs in terms of energy and time, birds should try to minimize its duration, which is dependent on the combined effects of environmental factors, endogenous programmes, and physiological conditions. Previous studies on long-distance migrants caught after crossing an ecological barrier have indicated that body condition strongly influences the decision whether to prolong stopover or resume migration, with lean birds staying longer than fat birds. In short-distance migrants, evidence is still scarce regarding a determinant role for physiological condition in stopover behaviour after crossing an ecological barrier. Here, we studied whether migratory restlessness (Zugunruhe) at a stopover site is dependent on physiological condition in three European short-distance migratory passerines: black redstarts, European robins, and European stonechats. In all species, an integrated measure of condition based on body mass, amount of subcutaneous fat, and thickness of pectoral muscles predicted the intensity of Zugunruhe. Overall, our results confirmed the importance of energy reserves in determining stopover duration, illustrating similar stopover strategies in short- and long-distance migrants.

Spatial variation in haemoglobin concentration of nestling Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus): a long-term perspective
Michał Glądalski , Mirosława Bańbura, Adam Kaliński, Marcin Markowski, Joanna Skwarska, Jarosław Wawrzyniak, Piotr Zieliński, Jerzy Bańbura

An understanding of the influences of anthropogenic disturbance and variation in habitat quality on organism condition and breeding success may improve future management and conservation decisions. Some authors consider haemoglobin concentration to be a simple biochemical indicator of bird condition. The main goal of this paper is to examine if the level of haemoglobin displays any consistent pattern of variation across habitats differing in quality. We present results concerning long-term variation in haemoglobin concentration in the blood of about 14-day-old nestling Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) in central Poland in an 11-year period (2003–2013), in two landscapes (an urban parkland and a deciduous forest). The most important findings of the study are: (1) the concentration of haemoglobin of the nestlings from the same brood tended to be consistently similar, with most variation occurring between broods, (2) mean levels of haemoglobin varied between years, and were correlated with caterpillar abundance peaks in the forest study site, (3) mean haemoglobin concentration was significantly higher in the forest area than in the parkland area, (4) haemoglobin levels were positively correlated with breeding and fledging success. We confirmed that haemoglobin concentration displays a spatio-temporal pattern and that the level of haemoglobin is a reliable condition and habitat quality indicator in nestling Blue Tits in the study populations. Although, strictly speaking, the analysed differences are between two particular sites, we think that they reflect differences between urban and non-urban habitats.

Stress response assessment during translocation of captive-bred Greater Rheas into the wild
A. Lèche , M. Vera Cortez, N. S. Della Costa, J. L. Navarro, R. H. Marin, M. B. Martella

Translocation is an extensively used conservation tool that involves exposing animals to stressful situations that may influence the post-release survival. In this study, 20 Greater Rhea (Rhea americana) adults hatched and reared in captivity were translocated to a wildlife refuge. After transport and before release, animals were kept in pens at the liberation site to make a “soft-release” strategy. Fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM) were monitored during pre-transportation, post-transportation and pre-release, and post-release phases as an indicator of the stress of translocation and acclimation to the new environment. During pre-transportation phase, FGM levels found were consistent with the baseline concentrations described for this species for males and females, respectively. On day 1 after transportation, FGM levels were increased in both sexes, returning to baseline values during the maintenance in the pens. Although the handling and transportation triggered an acute stress response, the procedures used and the soft release in pens allowed Rheas to reestablish quickly baseline FGM levels. After release into the novel wildlife refuge, FGM levels were increased again and remained similarly increased during the following 2 months of the study. Findings suggest a strong chronic stress response, probably triggered by a combination of many factors (i.e. novelty, attacks from predators, social interactions, human related disturbances such as poaching, vehicular noise, hunting dogs) that may reduce the bird’s ability to solve new challenging situations, especially the illegal hunting pressure that seems to be a significant threat in this species.

Genetic evidence of female specific eggshell colouration in the Common Crane (Grus grus)
Henriette Höltje , Wolfgang Mewes, Martin Haase, Angela Schmitz Ornés

The large variation in colouration and patterning of bird eggs suggests a variety of functions. For instance, in cases of intra- and inter-specific brood parasitism, the recognition of own eggs by the parents could be essential for their reproductive success. However, individual specific signatures may also be of interest from an applied point of view, as it would be possible to monitor individual females across breeding seasons by identifying their eggs. This would be of particular importance for species that are difficult to catch and ring such as the Common Crane (Grus grus). Since 2004, nest monitoring of this species has been conducted by one of us (W.M.) in north-east Germany, which led to the development of a semi-quantitative method to identify female cranes by diagnostic egg features including ground colour and spots of eggshells. In order to verify this approach, we quantitatively determined the spot patterns on eggshells from eggs of 19 females identified by this method. We used standardised photographs of the eggs laid across three seasons and the computer program “Egg Shell Pattern ANAlysis” (ESPANA). The resulting data were statistically analysed by conducting principal coordinate analyses and analyses of similarity. To prove the identity of the putative females, we extracted DNA for microsatellite analyses from eggshell pieces collected after hatching from up to seven breeding seasons. Our analyses confirmed that Common Cranes lay eggs with individual specific patterns and confirmed the reliability of the semi-quantitative method of identification. Microsatellite genotypes based on nine loci were identical for all samples from each particular, putative female. Therefore, the semi-quantitative approach of identifying females based on their clutches is indeed an innovative monitoring tool that will make many species accessible for addressing important issues in population biology, ecology and conservation.

Annual cycle and migration strategies of a habitat specialist, the Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris, revealed by geolocators
Martins Briedis , Václav Beran, Steffen Hahn, Peter Adamík

Habitat specialist species occupy narrow ecological niches, typically utilizing similar habitat types throughout the annual cycle. Their strict requirements for specific habitats may make them vulnerable to environmental changes, especially in small, local populations. Therefore, detailed knowledge of the species’ ecology is crucial for conservation purposes. In this study, we used light-level geolocators to identify migration routes and non-breeding areas of a distinct specialist for dry habitats, the Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris, from a currently declining central European breeding population. During autumn and spring migration, the majority of the birds followed a route along the northwest of the Alps and via the Iberian Peninsula, with stopover sites mainly in northern Africa. In each migration season, however, one of two different individuals took a detour around the eastern side of the Alps. When crossing the main ecological barrier, the Sahara Desert, three of six birds followed the Atlantic coastline in autumn, whereas all five birds migrated near the coast in spring. Non-breeding areas of all tracked pipits were uniformly located in the Western Sahel, with five of six birds utilizing two main non-breeding sites, the second of which was always located west of the first. On average, the tracked birds spent 48 % of the year at the non-breeding areas, 27 % on migration, and 25 % at the breeding site. Our findings demonstrate strong migratory connectivity in Tawny Pipits which may have future implications for conservation of this long-distance migrant.

Speciose opportunistic nectar-feeding avifauna in Cuba and its association to hummingbird island biogeography
Bo Dalsgaard , Andrea C. Baquero, Carsten Rahbek, Jens Mogens Olesen, James W. Wiley

Island organisms often have wider feeding niches than mainland organisms, and migratory birds breeding on continents often widen their niches when overwintering on islands. Cuba’s low hummingbird richness has puzzled ornithologists for decades. Here, we show that the Cuban hummingbird fauna is less rich than expected based on Cuba’s elevation, when compared to the rest of the West Indian islands. Thereafter, we report nectar-feeding behaviour by 26 non-Trochilidae bird species in Cuba, encompassing pigeons/doves, woodpeckers and passerines, and endemic, resident and migratory species. We discuss if Cuba’s speciose non-Trochilidae nectar-feeding avifauna may be associated with its depauperate hummingbird fauna.

Hot footing eggs: thermal imaging reveals foot mediated incubation in White-tailed Tropicbirds, Phaethon lepturus
Lorinda A. Hart, Colleen T. Downs , M. Brown

Birds generally incubate eggs by transferring body heat from an exposed abdominal area known as a brood patch. However, there are exceptions to this where some species use foot-mediated incubation. It was previously thought that, although White-tailed Tropicbirds, Phaethon lepturus, lack a brood patch, the heat generated by their feet was too low to incubate their eggs. Using modern thermal imaging techniques, our results indicate the opposite, revealing that tropicbird feet are an important heat source when incubating their eggs.

Isolation, characterization and multiplex PCR development of Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) microsatellite loci
Oddmund Kleven , Rolf T. Kroglund, Jan E. Østnes

DNA from non-invasively collected samples may be used to identify individuals for monitoring birds. Here we describe 36 novel microsatellite loci from Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) identified using a next-generation sequencing approach. From 34 variable loci, we selected 12 tetranucleotide loci with short amplicon sizes, combined these into two multiplex PCR sets, and included a sex-typing marker. In 31 Bean Geese from a population in central Norway, we found 4–10 alleles per locus and observed heterozygosity ranging from 0.58 to 0.87. The combined probability of identity for the 12 loci was 6.5 × 10−13. These novel microsatellite loci and their multiplex PCR assays will be useful for genetic analyses of the Bean Goose, including typing of non-invasive samples such as molted feathers. Cross-species application of the two multiplex PCR assays revealed that all 12 loci amplified successfully in four other Anser species.

No evidence for effects of formalin storage duration or solvent medium exposure on avian sperm morphology
Tim Schmoll , Romina Sanciprian, Oddmund Kleven

Morphometric analysis of avian spermatozoa from sperm samples preserved in formalin is a frequently adopted procedure in basic science (e.g. evolutionary ecology) and applied disciplines (e.g. animal breeding). Many research questions such as individual-based longitudinal studies of sperm traits require comparisons of formalin-stored sperm samples collected across multiple sampling events, which may be separated by years. Such analyses presuppose that prolonged storage in formalin does not affect sperm morphology, an assumption often implicitly made in the analysis of avian sperm morphology. This assumption, however, has never been tested, although for many study designs a potential effect of sperm storage duration may well confound the focal analysis. Based on pairwise comparisons of 22 experimental ejaculates from three passerine bird species, we found no evidence that differential storage duration of more than 1 year had affected the total length of spermatozoa stored in a 5 % formaldehyde solution. This suggests that formalin-stored sperm samples from long-term studies or museum collections can be merged in combined analyses without confounding differential storage duration with natural between-year variation in sperm dimensions or age effects in longitudinal studies. Based on pairwise comparisons of 29 split ejaculates, we also found no evidence that spermatozoa differed in length when solved initially in either phosphate buffered saline or Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle Medium, a standard medium for videotaping live sperm, prior to preservation and storage in formalin. Sperm samples treated differently in this respect may thus be merged into combined analyses, too.