Matching Items (3)

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Parasites in the City: Degree of Urbanization Predicts Poxvirus and Coccidian Infections in House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Description

Background
Urbanization can strongly impact the physiology, behavior, and fitness of animals. Conditions in cities may also promote the transmission and success of animal parasites and pathogens. However, to date,

Background
Urbanization can strongly impact the physiology, behavior, and fitness of animals. Conditions in cities may also promote the transmission and success of animal parasites and pathogens. However, to date, no studies have examined variation in the prevalence or severity of several distinct pathogens/parasites along a gradient of urbanization in animals or if these infections increase physiological stress in urban populations.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we measured the prevalence and severity of infection with intestinal coccidians (Isospora sp.) and the canarypox virus (Avipoxvirus) along an urban-to-rural gradient in wild male house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus). In addition, we quantified an important stress indicator in animals (oxidative stress) and several axes of urbanization, including human population density and land-use patterns within a 1 km radius of each trapping site. Prevalence of poxvirus infection and severity of coccidial infection were significantly associated with the degree of urbanization, with an increase of infection in more urban areas. The degrees of infection by the two parasites were not correlated along the urban-rural gradient. Finally, levels of oxidative damage in plasma were not associated with infection or with urbanization metrics.
Conclusion/Significance
These results indicate that the physical presence of humans in cities and the associated altered urban landscape characteristics are associated with increased infections with both a virus and a gastrointestinal parasite in this common songbird resident of North American cities. Though we failed to find elevations in urban- or parasite/pathogen-mediated oxidative stress, humans may facilitate infections in these birds via bird feeders (i.e. horizontal disease transmission due to unsanitary surfaces and/or elevations in host population densities) and/or via elevations in other forms of physiological stress (e.g. corticosterone, nutritional).

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014-02-04

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Plant Productivity of Various Plants Grown in Coffee Grounds

Description

Over the last century, society has begun to acknowledge and observe how human actions are negatively impacting the environment. Sustainable living is becoming more adopted into daily lives, including a

Over the last century, society has begun to acknowledge and observe how human actions are negatively impacting the environment. Sustainable living is becoming more adopted into daily lives, including a focus on waste management and recycling. Previous informal studies have proposed that coffee grounds can be recycled and added to the soil to increase plant productivity. The objective of this experiment was to test how different concentrations of roasted coffee grounds would affect the overall plant productivity when introduced in the soil of various plant types and environmental atmospheres. Three treatments were selected (100% potting mix, 50% potting mix/50% coffee grounds, and 25% potting mix/75% coffee grounds) and applied to 3 acid-tolerating plants (radish, basil, and parsley). Each of these treatments were grown in 2 different environments, where one was planted in a Tempe, AZ backyard while the other group was planted in a lab environment, locating at Arizona State University's Tempe Campus. Each plant with its respective treatments (plant type, coffee ground treatment, and environment) had 10 identical plants for statistical accuracy, resulting in a total of 180 plants grown, observed, and analyzed for this 3-month long experiment. The plant development, plant height, length of roots, quantity of leaves, and environmental observations were recorded and used to define plant productivity in this investigation. The experiment demonstrated low survival rates in all groups including the control group, suggesting a flaw in the experimental design. Nonetheless, the experiment showed that among the surviving plants, the 75% treatment had the largest negative impact on plant productivity. The measured root lengths and leaf quantity had various results across each plant group, leaving the hypothesis unverified. Overall, the experiment was effective in demonstrating negative impacts of great concentrations of coffee grounds when introduced to various plants, but further investigation with an adjusted experimental design will need to be completed to reach a reliable conclusion.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-12

Song characteristics track bill morphology along a gradient of urbanization in house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Description

Introduction
Urbanization can considerably impact animal ecology, evolution, and behavior. Among the new conditions that animals experience in cities is anthropogenic noise, which can limit the sound space available for

Introduction
Urbanization can considerably impact animal ecology, evolution, and behavior. Among the new conditions that animals experience in cities is anthropogenic noise, which can limit the sound space available for animals to communicate using acoustic signals. Some urban bird species increase their song frequencies so that they can be heard above low-frequency background city noise. However, the ability to make such song modifications may be constrained by several morphological factors, including bill gape, size, and shape, thereby limiting the degree to which certain species can vocally adapt to urban settings. We examined the relationship between song characteristics and bill morphology in a species (the house finch, Haemorhous mexicanus) where both vocal performance and bill size are known to differ between city and rural animals.
Results
We found that bills were longer and narrower in more disturbed, urban areas. We observed an increase in minimum song frequency of urban birds, and we also found that the upper frequency limit of songs decreased in direct relation to bill morphology.
Conclusions
These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that birds with longer beaks and therefore longer vocal tracts sing songs with lower maximum frequencies because longer tubes have lower-frequency resonances. Thus, for the first time, we reveal dual constraints (one biotic, one abiotic) on the song frequency range of urban animals. Urban foraging pressures may additionally interact with the acoustic environment to shape bill traits and vocal performance.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014-11-12