148 research outputs found

    Superb Fairy-Wren (Malurus cyaneus) Sons and Daughters Acquire Song Elements of Mothers and Social Fathers

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    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.Birdsong is regarded as a classic example of a sexually-selected trait and has been primarily studied in systems with male song. Complex solo female song is emerging from the shadows of overlooked phenomena. In males, rearing conditions affect male song complexity, and males with complex songs are often more successful at mate attraction and territorial defense. Little is known about the ontogeny or function of complex female song. Here we examine song elements in fledgling superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) in relation to the song elements of adult tutors. Male and female superb fairy-wrens produce solo song year-round to defend a territory. We ask if sons and daughters acquire song elements from sex-specific vocal tutors. We found that sons and daughters produced the song elements of their mothers and social fathers, and that sons and daughters had comparable song element repertoires at age 7–10 weeks. We conclude that sons and daughters increase their song element repertoire when vocally imitating elements from several vocal tutors, and that both sexes acquire elements from male and female vocal tutors in this system

    Naris deformation in Darwin’s finches: Experimental and historical evidence for a post-1960s arrival of the parasite Philornis downsi

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    This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).The rate of evolution depends on the strength of selection, which may be particularly strong for introduced parasites and their naive hosts. Because natural selection acts on phenotypes and because parasites can alter host phenotype, one fruitful starting point to measure the impact of novel pathogens is to quantify parasite-induced changes to host phenotype. Our study system is Darwin’s finches on Floreana Island, Galápagos Archipelago, and the virulent fly larvae of Philornis downsi that were first discovered in Darwin’s finch nests in 1997. We use an experimental approach and measure host phenotype in parasitized and parasite-free chicks in Darwin’s small ground finch (Geospiza fuliginosa). Beak size did not differ between the two treatment groups, but naris size was 106% larger in parasitized chicks (∼3.3 mm) versus parasite-free chicks (∼1.6 mm). To test if P. downsi was present prior to the 1960s, we compared naris size in historical (1899–1962) and contemporary birds (2004–2014) on Floreana Island in small ground finches (G. fuliginosa) and medium tree finches (Camarhynchus pauper). Contemporary Darwin’s finches had significantly larger naris size (including extreme deformation), whereas historical naris size was both smaller and less variable. These findings provide the first longitudinal analysis for the extent of P. downsi-induced change to host naris size and show that Darwin’s finches, prior to the 1960s, were not malformed. Thus natural selection on altered host phenotype as a consequence of P. downsi parasitism appears to be contemporary and novel

    Darwin’s finches in human-altered environments sing common song types and are more aggressive

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    Human-altered landscapes may act as an environmental filter benefiting species or individuals with specific sets of capacities or behaviors. Yet the effects of human activity on culturally transmitted traits in animals are still poorly understood. Combining song recordings and simulated territory intrusions, we investigated whether songs (a cultural trait) and aggressiveness (a personality trait) in small ground finches (Geospiza fuliginosa) differed along a gradient of human activity levels (high-low-high) spanning two habitats with contrasting levels of rainfall (arid lowlands, humid highlands). We found that more common syllable types were more prevalent in arid lowland sites and at sites with high human activity. The number of syllables per song, song duration, song tempo and song rhythmicity did not differ across habitats or levels of human activity. During simulated territorial intrusions, small ground finches living in areas with higher levels of human activity and in the arid lowlands (regardless of human activity) showed the strongest aggressive response compared to those living in areas with lower levels of human activity or in the humid highlands. Thus, prevalence of aggression and syllable commonness correlated with each other across sites. Our results support the idea that resource distribution and human-impacted environments may select jointly for specific behavioral phenotypes such as aggression as well as common cultural traits

    Avian diversity and abundance across years: consistent patterns in forests but not grasslands on Viti Levu, Fiji

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    Context. Habitat loss is a global problem and in Fiji >50% of the land area once covered by forests has been converted to grasslands and agricultural land. About 99% of Fiji’s endemic biodiversity and 80% of the land bird species have been identified as forest species. Aims. In this study, we compare forest and grassland sites and test for consistency in avian diversity, abundance, foraging guild, and distribution status (endemic, native, introduced to Fiji) over a 5-year period (2016–2020). Methods. We surveyed bird communities using the point count method with a 100 m radius and 7-min observation period per site. Key results. A one-way analysis of similarities (ANOSIM) analysis showed significant differences in species composition and bird abundance between the forested habitats and grassland habitats. A general linear model test showed significant differences in foraging guild composition and distribution status between forested and grassland habitats. There were no significant differences between the three forested sites (primary montane forest, secondary old-growth forest, old-growth mahogany plantations with regenerating native species), while grassland sites had stronger annual change in species composition. Implications. Forest cover, irrespective of whether these forests are of primary or secondary nature, therefore plays an important role in maintaining the native and endemic land bird species and other biodiversity in oceanic island ecosystems such as Viti Levu Island, Fiji

    Interspecific competition and vertical niche partitioning in Fiji’s forest birds

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    Charles Darwin proposed his ‘principle of divergence’ to account for changes in traits that could promote speciation and coexistence of diverse forms through occupation of different niches to reduce interspecific competition. We explore interspecific foraging behaviour overlap in Fiji’s forest birds, and address two main questions: (1) Is there vertical stratification of foraging behavior? and (2) Is there evidence of interspecific competition driving the differences in foraging behaviour? We explore these questions across three foraging guilds, nectarivores (three species), insectivores (two species), and omnivores (two species), and find vertical portioning of foraging in each group. To investigate the effect of interspecific competition, we compared foraging heights of the Orange-breasted Myzomela (Myzomela jugularis) honeyeater on Viti Levu Island (where it coexists with two other honeyeater species) and Leleuvia Island (no other honeyeater species). On the main island Viti Levu, we found evidence for vertical niche partitioning within each foraging guild. On Leleuvia, with the ‘one-species only foraging guild’, Orange-breasted Myzomela occupied broader vertical foraging niche than on Viti Levu with two other competitor honeyeater species. This result supports the idea that vertical foraging height can be shaped by interspecific competition. The findings of this study support Darwin’s principle of divergence in Fiji’s forest birds for every foraging guild measured and adds to our understanding of the significance of interspecific competition and niche divergence for patterns of ecological speciation on islands

    Taxonomic Shifts in <em>Philornis</em> Larval Behaviour and Rapid Changes in <em>Philornis downsi</em> Dodge & Aitken (Diptera: Muscidae): An Invasive Avian Parasite on the Galápagos Islands

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    The parasitic larvae of Philornis downsi Dodge & Aitken (Diptera: Muscidae) were first discovered in Darwin’s finch nests on the Galápagos Islands in 1997. Larvae of P. downsi consume the blood and tissue of developing birds, causing high in-nest mortality in their Galápagos hosts. The fly has been spreading across the archipelago and is considered the biggest threat to the survival of Galápagos land birds. Here, we review (1) Philornis systematics and taxonomy, (2) discuss shifts in feeding habits across Philornis species comparing basal to more recently evolved groups, (3) report on differences in the ontogeny of wild and captive P. downsi larvae, (4) describe what is known about adult P. downsi behaviour, and (5) discuss changes in P. downsi behaviour since its discovery on the Galápagos Islands. From 1997 to 2010, P. downsi larvae have been rarely detected in Darwin’s finch nests with eggs. Since 2012, P. downsi larvae have regularly been found in the nests of incubating Darwin’s finches. Exploring P. downsi ontogeny and behaviour in the larger context of taxonomic relationships provides clues about the breadth of behavioural flexibility that may facilitate successful colonisation

    Host response to cuckoo song is predicted by the future risk of brood parasitism

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    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.Introduction: Risk assessment occurs over different temporal and spatial scales and is selected for when individuals show an adaptive response to a threat. Here, we test if birds respond to the threat of brood parasitism using the acoustical cues of brood parasites in the absence of visual stimuli. We broadcast the playback of song of three brood parasites (Chalcites cuckoo species) and a sympatric non-parasite (striated thornbill, Acanthiza lineata) in the territories of superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) during the peak breeding period and opportunistic breeding period. The three cuckoo species differ in brood parasite prevalence and the probability of detection by the host, which we used to rank the risk of parasitism (high risk, moderate risk, low risk). Results: Host birds showed the strongest response to the threat of cuckoo parasitism in accordance with the risk of parasitism. Resident wrens had many alarm calls and close and rapid approach to the playback speaker that was broadcasting song of the high risk brood parasite (Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoo, C. basalis) across the year (peak and opportunistic breeding period), some response to the moderate risk brood parasite (shining bronze-cuckoo, C. lucidus) during the peak breeding period, and the weakest response to the low risk brood parasite (little bronzecuckoo, C. minutillus). Playback of the familiar control stimulus in wren territories evoked the least response. Conclusion: Host response to the threat of cuckoo parasitism was assessed using vocal cues of the cuckoo and was predicted by the risk of future parasitism

    Baseline and stress-induced blood properties of male and female Darwin’s small ground finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) of the Galapagos Islands

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    © 2017 Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/Birds are renowned for exhibiting marked sex-specific differences in activity levels and reproductive investment during the breeding season, potentially impacting circulating blood parameters associated with stress and energetics. Males of many passerines often do not incubate, but they experience direct exposure to intruder threat and exhibit aggressive behaviour during the nesting phase in order to defend territories against competing males and predators. Nesting females often have long bouts of inactivity during incubation, but they must remain vigilant of the risks posed by predators and conspecific intruders approaching the nest. Here, we use 33 free-living male (n = 16) and female (n = 17) Darwin's small ground finches (Geospiza fuliginosa) on Floreana Island (Galapagos Archipelago) to better understand how sex-specific roles during the reproductive period impact baseline and stress-induced levels of plasma corticosterone (CORT), blood glucose and haematocrit. Specifically, we hypothesise that males are characterised by higher baseline values given their direct and relatively frequent exposure to intruder threat, but that a standardised stress event (capture and holding) overrides any sex-specific differences. In contrast with expectations, baseline levels of all blood parameters were similar between sexes (13.4 ± 1.9 ng ml−1 for CORT, 13.7 ± 0.4 mmol l−1 for glucose, 58.3 ± 0.8% for haematocrit). Interestingly, females with higher body condition had lower baseline haematocrit. All blood parameters changed with time since capture (range 1.2–41.3 min) in both sexes, whereby CORT increased linearly, haematocrit decreased linearly, and glucose increased to a peak at ∼20 min post-capture and declined to baseline levels thereafter. Our results do not support the hypothesis that sex-specific roles during the reproductive period translate to differences in blood parameters associated with stress and energetics, but we found some evidence that blood oxygen transport capacity may decline as finches increase in body condition
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