Matching Items (11)

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A comparative test of the links between sleep state, brain size, and incubation investment in birds

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There are two electrophysiological states of sleep in birds (rapid-eye-movement sleep [REM] and slow-wave sleep [SWS]), which have different functions and costs. REM improves memory consolidation, while SWS is neuro-restorative but

There are two electrophysiological states of sleep in birds (rapid-eye-movement sleep [REM] and slow-wave sleep [SWS]), which have different functions and costs. REM improves memory consolidation, while SWS is neuro-restorative but also exposes the animal to more risk during this deep-sleep phase. Birds who sleep in more exposed microsites are known to invest proportionally less in SWS (presumably to ensure proper vigilance), but otherwise little else is known about the ecological or behavioral predictors of how much time birds devote to REM v. SWS sleep. In this comparative analysis, we examine how proportional time spent in SWS v. REM is related to brain mass and duration of the incubation period in adults. Brain mass and incubation period were chosen as predictors of sleep state investment because brain mass is positively correlated with body size (and may show a relationship between physical development and sleep) and incubation period can be a link used to show similarities and differences between birds and mammals (using mammalian gestation period). We hypothesized that (1) species with larger brains (relative to body size and also while controlling for phylogeny) would have higher demands for information processing, and possibly proportionally outweigh neuro-repair, and thus devote more time to REM and that (2) species with longer incubation periods would have proportionally more REM due to the extended time required for overnight predator vigilance (and not falling into deep sleep) while on the nest. We found, using neurophysiological data from literature on 27 bird species, that adults from species with longer incubation periods spent proportionally more time in REM sleep, but that relative brain size was not significantly associated with relative time spent in REM or SWS. We therefore provide evidence that mammalian and avian REM in response to incubation/gestation period have convergently evolved. Our results suggest that overnight environmental conditions (e.g. sleep site exposure) might have a greater effect on sleep parameters than gross morphological attributes.

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  • 2017-05

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Conservation of Avian Species: Examining the Prevalence of Urban and Non-Urban Bird Species Admitted to Wildlife Centers in the Greater Phoenix Area

Description

Due to the widely accepted trend of urbanization displacing wildlife from their natural habitats and niches, many wildlife conservation organizations have sprouted up, even in Phoenix. Liberty Wildlife Foundation is

Due to the widely accepted trend of urbanization displacing wildlife from their natural habitats and niches, many wildlife conservation organizations have sprouted up, even in Phoenix. Liberty Wildlife Foundation is one that rehabilitates avian wildlife. Several studies have mentioned an opposing theory: that urbanization helps conserve those species that have turned urban environments into a niche of their own. Since these wildlife conservation centers are localized in cities themselves, this brings into question these organizations' definitions of the term "wildlife." This study examined injury and recovery statistics to determine just how many of the patients admitted were conventional wildlife versus urban-dwelling city birds, and whether this classification had any effect on their likeliness of recovery and release. The data showed that out of over 130 species, a few key urban species contributed to an overwhelmingly large majority of injured birds admitted to the center in 2017; urban and non-urban birds, however, had relatively equal average release frequencies, demonstrating then that their likelihood of recovery was predominantly dependent on the injury borne by them.

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Date Created
  • 2018-05

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Investigating sex differences in genetic relatedness in great-tailed grackles in Tempe, Arizona to infer potential sex biases in dispersal

Description

In most bird species, females disperse prior to their first breeding attempt, while males remain close to the place they were hatched for their entire lives (Greenwood and Harvey (1982)).

In most bird species, females disperse prior to their first breeding attempt, while males remain close to the place they were hatched for their entire lives (Greenwood and Harvey (1982)). Explanations for such female bias in natal dispersal have focused on the potential benefits that males derive from knowing the local environment to establish territories, while females search for suitable mates (Greenwood (1980)). However, the variables shaping dispersal decisions appear more complex (Mabry et al. (2013), Végvári et al. (2018)). There are a number of different variables that could act as a driving force behind dispersal including the social mating system, food competition, inbreeding avoidance, predation, and others. Here, we investigate whether females are the dispersing sex in great-tailed grackles, which have a mating system where the males hold territories and the females choose which territory to place their nest in (Johnson et al. (2000)). We used genetic approaches to identify sex biases in the propensity to disperse. In the experiment, we found that the male grackles were less related to each other while the female grackles were more related to each other. Building on that, the average distance between closely related individuals of the male group was longer than the average distance of closely related females. But, the mantel correlograms for the males and females both lack a consistent trend. Overall, the results indicated suggest that the males are the dispersing sex while the females are potentially philopatric and that the average dispersal distance for the grackle is greater than 2000 meters, the size of the sampling range used in the experiment. These results will inform our long-term study on the relationship between behavioral flexibility and rapid geographic range expansion by elucidating which individuals are likely to experience similar conditions across their lives, and which are likely to face new conditions when they become breeders.

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  • 2020-05

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The Role of Lipolysis in Regulating Plasma Glucose Concentrations in Mourning Doves

Description

Birds have unusually high plasma glucose concentrations compared to mammals of similar size despite their high metabolic rate. While birds use lipids as their main source of energy, it is

Birds have unusually high plasma glucose concentrations compared to mammals of similar size despite their high metabolic rate. While birds use lipids as their main source of energy, it is still unclear how and why they maintain high plasma glucose concentrations. To investigate a potential underlying mechanism, this study looks at the role of lipolysis in glucose homeostasis. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of decreased glycerol availability (through inhibition of lipolysis) on plasma glucose concentrations in mourning doves. The hypothesis is that decreased availability of glycerol will result in decreased production of glucose through gluconeogenesis leading to reduced plasma glucose concentrations. In the morning of each experiment, mourning doves were collected at the Arizona State University Tempe campus, and randomized into either a control group (0.9% saline) or experimental group (acipimox, 50mg/kg BM). Blood samples were collected prior to treatment, and at 1, 2, and 3 hours post-treatment. At 3 hours, doves were euthanized, and tissue samples were collected for analysis. Acipimox treatment resulted in significant increases in blood glucose concentrations at 1 and 2 hours post- treatment as well as renal triglyceride concentrations at 3 hours post-treatment. Change in plasma free glycerol between 0h and 3h followed an increasing trend for the acipimox treated animals, and a decreasing trend in the saline treated animals. These results do not support the hypothesis that inhibition of lipolysis should decrease blood glycerol and blood glucose levels. Rather, the effects of acipimox in glucose homeostasis appear to differ significantly between birds and mammals suggesting differing mechanisms for glucose homeostasis.

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  • 2015-05

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Wildlife Strikes at Airports: What are the Contributing Factors?

Description

In the U.S., less than 20 percent of wildlife strikes are reported, which leaves a large portion of incidents unaccounted for. Although wildlife strikes at airports often go unreported, since

In the U.S., less than 20 percent of wildlife strikes are reported, which leaves a large portion of incidents unaccounted for. Although wildlife strikes at airports often go unreported, since the early 1990's the number of wildlife strikes has increased five-fold and the number of damaging strikes has increased 1.5-fold. Goals for this project include determining if biological and landscape variables are good predictors of wildlife strikes. We define response variables as the number of reported wildlife strikes per 10,000 airport operations. We studied seven major airports around Phoenix, Arizona and 30 large airports in the western U.S. In the Phoenix metro valley, airports varied from having 0.3 strikes per year per 10,000 operations to having 14.5 strikes from 2009 to 2013. We determined bird richness by using the citizen-science database "eBird,"and measured species richness within a 15 kilometer area of each airport. Species richness between hotspots ranged from 131 to 320. Seasonal differences were determined using an analysis of variance (ANOVA) analysis for the seven Phoenix metro airports as well as the 30 western U.S. airports. Our results showed that there was a seasonal difference in wildlife strikes in the majority of our airports. We also used land use data from CAP LTER to determine any environmental factors such as vicinity to water or fence line located within five kilometers from airports using ArcGIS. These results are important because they are helpful in determining the factors influencing wildlife strikes based on the number of strikes reported.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05

Awaken: Young Adult Fiction as a Conduit to Conversation about Ecocriticism and Sustainability

Description

This project uses ecocriticism to analyze prevalent issues in sustainability and resource management, as depicted in Science Fiction Literature. Through the essays in which I used the Keywords for Environmental

This project uses ecocriticism to analyze prevalent issues in sustainability and resource management, as depicted in Science Fiction Literature. Through the essays in which I used the Keywords for Environmental Studies textbook by Joni Adamson et al., I analyzed how current Science Fiction novels deal with environmental issues. I then applied my findings to writing my own Science Fiction narrative, written in a Young Adult style to introduce the youth to the environmental problems we face in a creative and engaging manner.

In the story, Awaken, humans contest over territory with the avians — a sentient bid species. Years ago, the humans moved to underground dwellings in order to protect themselves from aerial assaults and developed sophisticated technology to keep the avians away from their crops. Over time, the avains became a legend humans tell their children to get them to behave, but a segment of the government remembers the real threat avians pose and are determined to vanquish their avian enemies. Kial Damian Johnson was created by his mother and father, who are involved in that segment of the government, with avian and human DNA. He finds himself drawn into the continuous battle between avians and humans. He learns that Yellowstone is going to erupt soon and neither avians nor humans can survive without sharing their resources, and he attempts to bring about peace between the two sides.

The narrative deals with issues prevalent in Animal Studies through giving the bird population a voice and a visible culture, and also reflects on current world issues as we strive to work together globally in the Anthropocene. Through researching and conducting interviews, I crafted this story to contribute to the environmental discourse. I wrote this story in a Young Adult style in order to invite the youth to engage in the conversation about issues of cross-cultural environmental sustainability.

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Date Created
  • 2018-12

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A survey of cancer prevalence within birds (the clave Aves).

Description

Cancer is a disease that occurs in many and perhaps all multicellular organisms. Current research is looking at how different life history characteristics among species could influence cancer rates. Because

Cancer is a disease that occurs in many and perhaps all multicellular organisms. Current research is looking at how different life history characteristics among species could influence cancer rates. Because somatic maintenance is an important component of a species' life history, we hypothesize the same ecological forces shaping the life history of a species should also determine its cancer susceptibility. By looking at varying life histories, potential evolutionary trends could be used to explain differing cancer rates. Life history theory could be an important framework for understanding cancer vulnerabilities with different trade-offs between life history traits and cancer defenses. Birds have diverse life history strategies that could explain differences in cancer suppression. Peto's paradox is the observation that cancer rates do not typically increase with body size and longevity despite an increased number of cell divisions over the animal's lifetime that ought to be carcinogenic. Here we show how Peto’s paradox is negatively correlated for cancer within the clade, Aves. That is, larger, long-lived birds get more cancer than smaller, short-lived birds (p=0.0001; r2= 0.024). Sexual dimorphism in both plumage color and size differ among Aves species. We hypothesized that this could lead to a difference in cancer rates due to the amount of time and energy sexual dimorphism takes away from somatic maintenance. We tested for an association between a variety of life history traits and cancer, including reproductive potential, growth rate, incubation, mating systems, and sexual dimorphism in both color and size. We found male birds get less cancer than female birds (9.8% vs. 11.1%, p=0.0058).

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Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Examining sound and urban-desert differences in the acoustic properties of Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottus) calls as it relates to species survival

Description

Human activity produces ambient noise that potentially alters species’ abilities to communicate with each other—among other impacts. Given that birds are known to be sensitive to structural changes in

Human activity produces ambient noise that potentially alters species’ abilities to communicate with each other—among other impacts. Given that birds are known to be sensitive to structural changes in habitat and highly communicative through sound, it is beneficial to understand how changing acoustic ecologies and ambient noise impact birds’ ability to communicate in their respective environments. In this study, mockingbird calls from an urban, desert, and intermediate study site were recorded and analyzed for differences in acoustic properties. Acoustic properties such as frequency and amplitude differed significantly across sites as it was determined that mockingbirds in urban areas increase both the peak frequency and amplitude of their calls in order to communicate. This study identifies what these changes in acoustic properties mean in relation to the survival and conservation of birds and concludes with recommendations for novel research.

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  • 2019-05

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Statistical evaluation and GIS model development to predict and classify habitat quality for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher

Description

The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) has been studied for over two decades and listed as endangered for most of that time. Though the flycatcher has been granted protected

The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) has been studied for over two decades and listed as endangered for most of that time. Though the flycatcher has been granted protected status since 1995, critical habitat designation for the flycatcher has not shared the same history. Critical habitat designation is essential for achieving the long-term goals defined in the flycatcher recovery plan where emphasis is on both the protection of this species and "the habitats supporting these flycatchers [that] must be protected from threats and loss" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2002). I used a long-term data set of habitat characteristics collected at three study areas along the Lower Colorado River to develop a method for quantifying habitat quality for flycatcher. The data set contained flycatcher nest observations (use) and habitat availability (random location) from 2003-2010 that I statistically analyzed for flycatcher selection preferences. Using both Pearson's Chi-square test and SPSS Principal Component Analysis (PCA) I determined that flycatchers were selecting 30 habitat traits significantly different among an initial list of 127 habitat characteristics. Using PCA, I calculated a weighted value of influence for each significant trait per study area and used those values to develop a habitat classification system to build predictive models for flycatcher habitat quality. I used ArcGIS® Model Builder to develop three habitat suitability models for each of the habitat types occurring in western riparian systems, native, mixed exotic and exotic dominated that are frequented by breeding flycatchers. I designed a fourth model, Topock Marsh, to test model accuracy on habitat quality for flycatchers using reserved accuracy assessment points of previous nest locations. The results of the fourth model accurately predicted a decline in habitat at Topock Marsh that was confirmed by SWCA survey reports released in 2011 and 2012 documenting a significant decline in flycatcher productivity in the Topock Marsh study area.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Longitudinal trends of bird community richness and abundance over fifteen years in the northern reaches of the sonoran desert

Description

Although many studies have identified environmental factors as primary drivers of bird richness and abundance, there is still uncertainty about the extent to which climate, topography and vegetation influence richness

Although many studies have identified environmental factors as primary drivers of bird richness and abundance, there is still uncertainty about the extent to which climate, topography and vegetation influence richness and abundance patterns seen in local extents of the northern Sonoran Desert. I investigated how bird richness and abundance differed between years and seasons and which environmental variables most influenced the patterns of richness and abundance in the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area.

I compiled a geodatabase of climate, bioclimatic (interactions between precipitation and temperature), vegetation, soil, and topographical variables that are known to influence both richness and abundance and used 15 years of bird point count survey data from urban and non-urban sites established by Central Arizona–Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research project to test that relationship. I built generalized linear models (GLM) to elucidate the influence of each environmental variable on richness and abundance values taken from 47 sites. I used principal component analysis (PCA) to reduce 43 environmental variables to 9 synthetic factors influenced by measures of vegetation, climate, topography, and energy. I also used the PCA to identify uncorrelated raw variables and modeled bird richness and abundance with these uncorrelated environmental variables (EV) with GLM.

I found that bird richness and abundance were significantly different between seasons, but that richness and winter abundance were not significantly different across years. Bird richness was most influenced by soil characteristics and vegetation while abundance was most influenced by vegetation and climate. Models using EV as independent variables consistently outperformed those models using synthetically produced components from PCA. The results suggest that richness and abundance are both driven by climate and aspects of vegetation that may also be influenced by climate such as total annual precipitation and average temperature of the warmest quarter. Annual oscillations of bird richness and abundance throughout the urban Phoenix area seem to be strongly associated with climate and vegetation.

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Date Created
  • 2019