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Birds, Volume 2, Issue 1 (March 2021) – 10 articles

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Article
Integumentary Colour Allocation in the Stork Family (Ciconiidae) Reveals Short-Range Visual Cues for Species Recognition
Birds 2021, 2(1), 138-146; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010010 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 740
Abstract
The family Ciconiidae comprises 19 extant species which are highly social when nesting and foraging. All species share similar morphotypes, with long necks, a bill, and legs, and are mostly coloured in the achromatic spectrum (white, black, black, and white, or shades of [...] Read more.
The family Ciconiidae comprises 19 extant species which are highly social when nesting and foraging. All species share similar morphotypes, with long necks, a bill, and legs, and are mostly coloured in the achromatic spectrum (white, black, black, and white, or shades of grey). Storks may have, however, brightly coloured integumentary areas in, for instance, the bill, legs, or the eyes. These chromatic patches are small in surface compared with the whole body. We have analyzed the conservatism degree of colouration in 10 body areas along an all-species stork phylogeny derived from BirdTRee using Geiger models. We obtained low conservatism in frontal areas (head and neck), contrasting with a high conservatism in the rest of the body. The frontal areas tend to concentrate the chromatic spectrum whereas the rear areas, much larger in surface, are basically achromatic. These results lead us to suggest that the divergent evolution of the colouration of frontal areas is related to species recognition through visual cue assessment in the short-range, when storks form mixed-species flocks in foraging or resting areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Long-Term Trends of Hazel Grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) in the Bohemian Forest (Šumava), Czech Republic, 1972–2019
Birds 2021, 2(1), 127-137; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010009 - 17 Mar 2021
Viewed by 576
Abstract
The population dynamics of Hazel Grouse were studied by presence/absence recording at stationary sites along fixed routes (110 km) in the central part of Šumava (Bohemian Forest, Czech Republic) from 1972 to 2019. The 100 km2 study area covered altitudes between 600 [...] Read more.
The population dynamics of Hazel Grouse were studied by presence/absence recording at stationary sites along fixed routes (110 km) in the central part of Šumava (Bohemian Forest, Czech Republic) from 1972 to 2019. The 100 km2 study area covered altitudes between 600 m (Rejštejn) and 1253 m above sea level (Mt. Sokol). Our database contained indices of Hazel Grouse occupancy: positive sites/visited sites for a yearly increasing number of Hazel Grouse occurrence sites (n = 134) for 48 years. We used a loglinear Poisson regression method to analyze the long-term population trend for Hazel Grouse in the study area. In the period from 1972 to 2006 we found a stable Hazel Grouse population (p = 0.83). From 2006–2007 to 2019, the population index dropped (−3.8% per year, p < 0.05). This decline is assumed to be influenced by habitat loss due to succession, resulting in older, more open forest stands, by strongly increasing forestry and windstorm “Kyrill”, followed by clear cutting, bark beetle damage, and the removal of pioneer trees in spruce plantations, which diminished buds and catkins, the dominant winter food of Hazel Grouse. The influence of disturbance by increasing tourist activities and/or predation is also discussed. Our results could help to optimize the conservation efforts for Hazel Grouse in the Bohemian Forest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Does Habitat Diversity Modify the Dietary and Reproductive Response to Prey Fluctuations in a Generalist Raptor Predator, the Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo?
Birds 2021, 2(1), 114-126; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010008 - 01 Mar 2021
Viewed by 665
Abstract
Predators can modify their diet and demography in response to changes in food availability and habitat quality. I tested the prediction that some species can change their predation pattern, between specialist type and generalist type, depending on the complexity of habitat structure. It [...] Read more.
Predators can modify their diet and demography in response to changes in food availability and habitat quality. I tested the prediction that some species can change their predation pattern, between specialist type and generalist type, depending on the complexity of habitat structure. It was hypothesized that their dietary response is stronger in diversified habitats than in simplified ones, but the opposite tendency occurs in the case of reproductive response. The nestling diet and breeding success of the Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo, the abundance of its main prey (the common vole Microtus arvalis), and that of the most important alternative prey group (passerines) were estimated over ten years in two types of agricultural habitat in western Poland, i.e., in the diversified habitat of small fields and the simplified habitat of large fields. The vole abundance was higher in large fields, but the abundance of passerines was greater in small fields. The frequency of voles in the Eurasian Buzzard nestling diet was higher in large fields than in small fields and increased with the abundance of this prey in crop fields. However, no difference in the relationship between the vole frequency in the diet of Eurasian Buzzards and the abundance of voles was found between the two habitat types. The breeding success of Eurasian Buzzards was dependent on the vole abundance, but this relationship did not differ between the two field types. It seems that the pattern of dietary and reproductive response of Eurasian Buzzards depends on the actual availability of individual prey species, which can be modified by habitat quality, rather than on relative prey abundance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Fecal Glucocorticoid Metabolite Concentration as a Tool for Assessing Impacts of Interventions in Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti)
Birds 2021, 2(1), 106-113; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010007 - 01 Mar 2021
Viewed by 586
Abstract
It is currently unknown if current guidelines for collecting and interpreting blood corticosterone in flying birds can be extrapolated to penguins. It is also difficult to collect blood quickly without causing stress to a penguin. Therefore, immunoreactive fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGCMs) may be [...] Read more.
It is currently unknown if current guidelines for collecting and interpreting blood corticosterone in flying birds can be extrapolated to penguins. It is also difficult to collect blood quickly without causing stress to a penguin. Therefore, immunoreactive fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGCMs) may be the most practical and minimally invasive way of monitoring the stress levels of penguins. This study investigated the reliability of FGCMs for monitoring stress levels in captive Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) at Jurong Bird Park, Singapore. Humboldt Penguin feces were randomly sampled and pooled from the exhibit for 2 months. The penguins were restrained and transported on three separate occasions to simulate stressful events. The feces were analyzed using an enzyme immunoassay to measure corticosterone levels. There were significant increases lasting 3 to 7 days in the FGCM levels after a stressful event. This method was then used to test whether accelerometer vests used for behavior quantification caused stress responses in these birds. There was no significant difference in FGCMs between time periods with and without the accelerometer vests. The results indicated that FGCMs can be an accurate indication of capture-, restraint-, and transport-related stress in Humboldt Penguins, and that accelerometer vests do not appear to cause stress. Full article
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Article
The Determination of the Minimum Anaesthetic Concentration of Halothane in the Rock Dove (Columba livia) Using an Electrical Stimulus
Birds 2021, 2(1), 96-105; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010006 - 12 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 577
Abstract
This study aims to determine the minimum anaesthetic concentration (MAC) of halothane in the Rock Dove using electrical stimulus. Seven Rock Doves are anaesthetised with halothane, and the MAC is determined using the bracketing method. An electrical stimulus (two single pulses and two [...] Read more.
This study aims to determine the minimum anaesthetic concentration (MAC) of halothane in the Rock Dove using electrical stimulus. Seven Rock Doves are anaesthetised with halothane, and the MAC is determined using the bracketing method. An electrical stimulus (two single pulses and two five-second stimuli, all separated by five-second pauses; 30 Hz, 30 V, 7.5 ms) is applied to the legs via subcutaneous electrodes. A maximum of eight periods of electrical stimulation, each with a preceding 15 min stable phase, is applied to each bird. If the non-reflexive movement occurred following stimulation, the end-tidal halothane (Fe’Hal) is increased by 10% before the next stimulus delivery. If no movement occurred, Fe’Hal is decreased by 10%. The MAC is the average of the highest concentration that allowed movement and the lowest that prevented movement. Physiological variables and ventilatory settings are recorded every five minutes. The current delivered is calculated offline. The mean ± SD MAC of halothane is 1.62 ± 0.29%, calculated from five birds. During the entire anaesthesia, all birds had cardiac arrhythmias —with three having sporadic recurrent periods of prolonged ventricular standstill followed by marked sinus tachycardia. The mean recorded voltage and calculated current and resistance are 27.6 ± 2.7 V, 20.3 ± 7.3 mAmp and 1.6 ± 0.9 kΩ, respectively. The advantage of halothane for prolonged anaesthesia in Rock Doves may be limited when noxious stimulation is used, due to the development of severe ventricular arrhythmias. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
Review
Evidence for Aviculture: Identifying Research Needs to Advance the Role of Ex Situ Bird Populations in Conservation Initiatives and Collection Planning
Birds 2021, 2(1), 77-95; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010005 - 05 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1506
Abstract
Birds are the most speciose of all taxonomic groups currently housed in zoos, but this species diversity is not always matched by their inclusion in research output in the peer-reviewed literature. This large and diverse captive population is an excellent tool for research [...] Read more.
Birds are the most speciose of all taxonomic groups currently housed in zoos, but this species diversity is not always matched by their inclusion in research output in the peer-reviewed literature. This large and diverse captive population is an excellent tool for research investigation, the findings of which can be relevant to conservation and population sustainability aims. The One Plan Approach to conservation aims to foster tangible conservation relevance of ex situ populations to those animals living in situ. The use of birds in zoo aviculture as proxies for wild-dwelling counterparts is considered from this integrated conservation approach. This paper considers the relevance of ex situ bird populations to field-based conservation action and it illustrates how “added value” to captive populations can be gained from their inclusion in conservation efforts. Current trends in scientific publications that focus on birds are provided to identify patterns in species focus and identification of areas of study that could be relevant to advancing avicultural practices, bird husbandry standards, animal welfare and conservation relevance of such populations. Research into wild birds is extremely useful for furthering how birds are managed in zoological collections. Collaboration between field-based projects that have involved zoo professionals are reviewed, to showcase information transfer from the field to the zoo and vice versa, and the ultimate benefits to aviculture and the added value that can be brought to zoo bird populations. Suggested ideas for research into specific areas of ex situ population management and conservation, and avicultural practices are provided to guide future researchers in their endeavors to ensure we have the evidence needed to care for and conserve birds as appropriately and as viably as possible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Review
The Ecology of the Zebra Finch Makes It a Great Laboratory Model but an Outlier amongst Passerine Birds
Birds 2021, 2(1), 60-76; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010004 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1012
Abstract
Zebra Finches have become the most widely researched bird species outside of those used in agricultural production. Their adoption as the avian model of choice is largely down to a number of characteristics that make them easy to obtain and use in captivity. [...] Read more.
Zebra Finches have become the most widely researched bird species outside of those used in agricultural production. Their adoption as the avian model of choice is largely down to a number of characteristics that make them easy to obtain and use in captivity. The main point of our paper is that the very characteristics that make the Zebra Finch a highly amenable laboratory model species mean that it is by definition different from many other passerine birds, and therefore not a good general model for many research areas. The Zebra Finch is likely to be particularly resilient to the effects of stress early in life, and is likely to show great flexibility in dealing with a wide variety of conditions later in life. Whilst it is tempting for researchers to turn to species such as the Zebra Finch, that can be the focus of manipulative work in the laboratory, we caution that the findings of such studies may confound our understanding of general avian biology. The Zebra Finch will remain an excellent species for laboratory work, and our paper should help to direct and interpret future work in the laboratory and the field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Composition and Potential Function of Fecal Bacterial Microbiota from Six Bird Species
Birds 2021, 2(1), 42-59; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010003 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 707
Abstract
Gut microbial communities play a fundamental role in health and disease, but little is known about the gut microbiota of pet bird species. This is important to better understand the impact of microbes on birds’ health but may also be relevant in a [...] Read more.
Gut microbial communities play a fundamental role in health and disease, but little is known about the gut microbiota of pet bird species. This is important to better understand the impact of microbes on birds’ health but may also be relevant in a context of zoonoses. Total genomic DNA samples from pooled fecal samples from 30 flocks (4–7 pet birds per flock) representing over 150 birds of six different species (two Passeriformes: Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) and Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata), and four Psittaciformes: Lovebird (Agapornis, different species), Cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus), Red-rumped Parrot (Psephotus haematonotus), and Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) were used for 16S rRNA gene analysis. Several taxa were found to be different among the bird species (e.g., lowest median of Lactobacillus: 2.2% in Cockatiels; highest median of Lactobacillus: 79.4% in Lovebirds). Despite marked differences among individual pooled samples, each bird species harbored a unique fecal bacterial composition, based on the analysis of UniFrac distances. A predictive approach of metagenomic function and organism-level microbiome phenotypes revealed several differences among the bird species (e.g., a higher proportion of proteobacteria with the potential to form biofilms in samples from Northern Mockingbirds). The results provide a useful catalog of fecal microbes from pet birds and encourage more research on this unexplored topic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Effect of Transhumant Livestock Grazing on Pseudo-Alpine Grassland Bird Communities
Birds 2021, 2(1), 23-41; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010002 - 12 Jan 2021
Viewed by 829
Abstract
Transhumance is a traditional animal husbandry system, but its effects on grassland avian communities have not been dealt with in depth. In this study, we quantified the influence of transhumance on the grassland avifauna, in representative pseudo-alpine grasslands with no (NGG), low (LGG), [...] Read more.
Transhumance is a traditional animal husbandry system, but its effects on grassland avian communities have not been dealt with in depth. In this study, we quantified the influence of transhumance on the grassland avifauna, in representative pseudo-alpine grasslands with no (NGG), low (LGG), and high (HGG) grazing intensity in the Pindos Mountains, Central Greece. Two point count surveys were conducted within 20 sites in each grassland during the bird breeding season of 2016. We assessed bird diversity indices and accounted for whether the recorded habitat and topographic variables were involved in their variation. A total of 25 bird species were recorded, with the grazed grasslands supporting the most species of high conservation value, while the NGG showed the highest bird diversity. Bird species richness and diversity increased with the decrease of vegetation height, vegetation height heterogeneity, and the increase of rock cover. Bird communities exhibited different patterns among the three grazing regimes and specific bird species of high conservation value appeared to prefer different grasslands. Six species preferred HGG, one preferred LGG, while two preferred NGG. Our study highlights the necessity of heterogeneous pseudo-alpine grasslands with short and tall grass areas in order to maintain highly diverse bird communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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Article
Data Types and the Phylogeny of Neoaves
Birds 2021, 2(1), 1-22; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/birds2010001 - 05 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1665
Abstract
The phylogeny of Neoaves, the largest clade of extant birds, has remained unclear despite intense study. The difficulty associated with resolving the early branches in Neoaves is likely driven by the rapid radiation of this group. However, conflicts among studies may be exacerbated [...] Read more.
The phylogeny of Neoaves, the largest clade of extant birds, has remained unclear despite intense study. The difficulty associated with resolving the early branches in Neoaves is likely driven by the rapid radiation of this group. However, conflicts among studies may be exacerbated by the data type analyzed. For example, analyses of coding exons typically yield trees that place Strisores (nightjars and allies) sister to the remaining Neoaves, while analyses of non-coding data typically yield trees where Mirandornites (flamingos and grebes) is the sister of the remaining Neoaves. Our understanding of data type effects is hampered by the fact that previous analyses have used different taxa, loci, and types of non-coding data. Herein, we provide strong corroboration of the data type effects hypothesis for Neoaves by comparing trees based on coding and non-coding data derived from the same taxa and gene regions. A simple analytical method known to minimize biases due to base composition (coding nucleotides as purines and pyrimidines) resulted in coding exon data with increased congruence to the non-coding topology using concatenated analyses. These results improve our understanding of the resolution of neoavian phylogeny and point to a challenge—data type effects—that is likely to be an important factor in phylogenetic analyses of birds (and many other taxonomic groups). Using our results, we provide a summary phylogeny that identifies well-corroborated relationships and highlights specific nodes where future efforts should focus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2021)
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