Matching Items (35)

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Urban Impacts on Oxidative Balance and Animal Signals

Description

Though many animal ornaments and signals are sensitive to and encode information about the oxidative balance (OB) of individuals (e.g., antioxidant supplies/activity, reactive oxygen species, cellular oxidative damage/repair), often the

Though many animal ornaments and signals are sensitive to and encode information about the oxidative balance (OB) of individuals (e.g., antioxidant supplies/activity, reactive oxygen species, cellular oxidative damage/repair), often the environmental and/or physiological sources of such OB are unknown. Urban development is among the most recent, pervasive, and persistent human stressors on the planet and impacts many environmental and physiological parameters of animals. Here we review the mechanistic underpinnings and functional consequences of how human urbanization drives antioxidant/oxidative status in animals and how this affects signal expression and use. Although we find that urbanization has strong negative effects on signal quality (e.g., visual, auditory, chemical) and OB across a range of taxa, few urban ecophysiological studies address signals and oxidative stress in unison, and even fewer in a fitness context. We also highlight particular signal types, taxa, life-histories, and anthropogenic environmental modifications on which future work integrating OB, signals, and urbanization could be centered. Last, we examine the conceptual and empirical framework behind the idea that urban conditions may disentangle signal expression from honesty and affect plasticity and adaptedness of sexually selected traits and preferences in the city.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05-19

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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).

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Date Created
  • 2014-02-04

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Frequent misdirected courtship in a natural community of colorful Habronattus jumping spiders

Description

Male courtship display is common in many animals; in some cases, males engage in courtship indiscriminately, spending significant time and energy courting heterospecifics with whom they have no chance of

Male courtship display is common in many animals; in some cases, males engage in courtship indiscriminately, spending significant time and energy courting heterospecifics with whom they have no chance of mating or producing viable offspring. Due to high costs and few if any benefits, we might expect mechanisms to evolve to reduce such misdirected courtship (or ‘reproductive interference’). In Habronattus jumping spiders, males frequently court heterospecifics with whom they do not mate or hybridize; females are larger and are voracious predators, posing a severe risk to males who court indiscriminately. In this study, we examined patterns of misdirected courtship in a natural community of four sympatric Habronattus species (H. clypeatus, H. hallani, H. hirsutus, and H. pyrrithrix). We used direct field observations to weigh support for two hypotheses (differential microhabitat use and species recognition signaling) to explain how these species reduce the costs associated with misdirected courtship. We show that, while the four species of Habronattus do show some differences in microhabitat use, all four species still overlap substantially, and in three of the four species individuals equally encountered heterospecifics and conspecifics. Males courted females at every opportunity, regardless of species, and in some cases, this led to aggression and predation by the female. These results suggest that, while differences in microhabitat use might reduce misdirected courtship to some extent, co-existence of these four species may be possible due to complex communication (i.e. species-specific elements of a male’s courtship display). This study is the first to examine misdirected courtship in jumping spiders. Studies of misdirected courtship and its consequences in the field are limited and may broaden our understanding of how biodiversity is maintained within a community.

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Date Created
  • 2017-04-05

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Complementary shifts in photoreceptor spectral tuning unlock the full adaptive potential of ultraviolet vision in birds

Description

Color vision in birds is mediated by four types of cone photoreceptors whose maximal sensitivities (λ[subscript max]) are evenly spaced across the light spectrum. In the course of avian evolution,

Color vision in birds is mediated by four types of cone photoreceptors whose maximal sensitivities (λ[subscript max]) are evenly spaced across the light spectrum. In the course of avian evolution, the λ[subscript max] of the most shortwave-sensitive cone, SWS1, has switched between violet (λ[subscript max] > 400 nm) and ultraviolet (λ[subscript max] < 380 nm) multiple times. This shift of the SWS1 opsin is accompanied by a corresponding short-wavelength shift in the spectrally adjacent SWS2 cone. Here, we show that SWS2 cone spectral tuning is mediated by modulating the ratio of two apocarotenoids, galloxanthin and 11’,12’-dihydrogalloxanthin, which act as intracellular spectral filters in this cell type. We propose an enzymatic pathway that mediates the differential production of these apocarotenoids in the avian retina, and we use color vision modeling to demonstrate how correlated evolution of spectral tuning is necessary to achieve even sampling of the light spectrum and thereby maintain near-optimal color discrimination.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-07-12

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The effects of urbanization and human disturbance on problem solving in juvenile house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Description

Urbanization exposes wildlife to many unfamiliar environmental conditions, including the presence of novel structures and food sources. Adapting to or thriving within such anthropogenic modifications may involve cognitive skills, whereby

Urbanization exposes wildlife to many unfamiliar environmental conditions, including the presence of novel structures and food sources. Adapting to or thriving within such anthropogenic modifications may involve cognitive skills, whereby animals come to solve novel problems while navigating, foraging, etc. The increased presence of humans in urban areas is an additional environmental challenge that may potentially impact cognitive performance in wildlife. To date, there has been little experimental investigation into how human disturbance affects problem solving in animals from urban and rural areas. Urban animals may show superior cognitive performance in the face of human disturbance, due to familiarity with benign human presence, or rural animals may show greater cognitive performance in response to the heightened stress of unfamiliar human presence. Here, I studied the relationship between human disturbance, urbanization, and the ability to solve a novel foraging problem in wild-caught juvenile house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus). This songbird is a successful urban dweller and native to the deserts of the southwestern United States. In captivity, finches captured from both urban and rural populations were presented with a novel foraging task (sliding a lid covering their typical food dish) and then exposed to regular periods of high or low human disturbance over several weeks before they were again presented with the task. I found that rural birds exposed to frequent human disturbance showed reduced task performance compared to human-disturbed urban finches. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that acclimation to human presence protects urban birds from reduced cognition, unlike rural birds. Some behaviors related to solving the problem (e.g. pecking at and eying the dish) also differed between urban and rural finches, possibly indicating that urban birds were less neophobic and more exploratory than rural ones. However, these results were unclear. Overall, these findings suggest that urbanization and acclimation to human presence can strongly predict avian response to novelty and cognitive challenges.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05

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

Description

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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Date Created
  • 2017-05

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Exposure to Artificial Light at Night Increases Innate Immunity During Development in a Precocial Bird

Description

Humans have greatly altered the night-time photic environment via the production of artificial light at night (ALAN; e.g. street lights, car traffic, billboards, lit buildings). ALAN is problematic because it

Humans have greatly altered the night-time photic environment via the production of artificial light at night (ALAN; e.g. street lights, car traffic, billboards, lit buildings). ALAN is problematic because it may significantly alter the seasonal/daily physiological rhythms or behaviors of animals. There has been considerable interest in the impacts of ALAN on health in humans and lab animals, but most such work has centered on adults and we know comparatively little about effects on young animals. We exposed 3-week-old king quail (Excalfactoria chinensis) to a constant overnight blue-light regime for 6 weeks and assessed weekly bactericidal activity of plasma against Escherichia coli - a commonly employed metric of innate immunity in animals. We found that chronic ALAN exposure significantly increased immune function, and that this elevation in immune performance manifested at different developmental time points in males and females. These results counter the pervasive notion that overnight light exposure is universally physiologically harmful to diurnal organisms and indicate that ALAN can provide sex-specific, short-term immunological boosts to developing animals.

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Date Created
  • 2017-12

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Effects of Urbanization and Sex on Color and Disease in the House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)

Description

Historically, studies of condition-dependent signals in animals have been male-centric, but recent work suggests that female ornaments can also communicate individual quality (e.g., disease state, fecundity). There has been a

Historically, studies of condition-dependent signals in animals have been male-centric, but recent work suggests that female ornaments can also communicate individual quality (e.g., disease state, fecundity). There has been a surge of interest in how urbanization alters signaling traits, but we know little about if and how cities affect signal expression in female animals. We measured carotenoid-based plumage coloration and coccidian (Isospora spp) parasite burden in desert and city populations of house finches to examine urban impacts on male and female health and attractiveness. In earlier work, we showed that male house finches are less colorful and more parasitized in the city, and we again detected that pattern in this study for males. However, though city females are also less colorful than their rural counterparts, we found that rural females were more parasitized. Also, regardless of sex and unlike rural birds, more colorful birds in the city were more heavily infected with coccidia. These results show that urban environments can disrupt signal honesty in female animals and highlight the need for more studies on how cities affect disease and condition-dependent traits in both male and female animals.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05

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The role of skill in determining dominance in the virile crayfish, Faxonius virilis

Description

Studies of animal contests often focus solely on a single static measurement of fighting ability, such as the size or the strength of the individual. However, recent studies have highlighted

Studies of animal contests often focus solely on a single static measurement of fighting ability, such as the size or the strength of the individual. However, recent studies have highlighted the importance of individual variation in the dynamic behaviors used during a fight, such as, assessment strategies, decision making, and fine motor control, as being strong predictors of the outcome of aggression. Here, I combined morphological and behavioral data to discover how these features interact during aggressing interactions in male virile crayfish, Faxonius virilis. I predicted that individual variation in behavioral skill for decision making (i.e., number of strikes thrown), would determine the outcome of contest success in addition to morphological measurements (e.g. body size, relative claw size). To evaluate this prediction, I filmed staged territorial interactions between male F. virilis and later analyzed trial behaviors (e.g. strike, pinches, and bout time) and aggressive outcomes. I found very little support for skill to predict win/loss outcome in trials. Instead, I found that larger crayfish engaged in aggression for longer compared to smaller crayfish, but that larger crayfish did not engage in a greater number of claw strikes or pinches when controlling for encounter duration. Future studies should continue to investigate the role of skill, by using finer-scale techniques such as 3D tracking software, which could track advanced measurements (e.g. speed, angle, and movement efficiency). Such studies would provide a more comprehensive understanding of the relative influence of fighting skill technique on territorial contests.

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Date Created
  • 2021-05

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Are males turned on by sexy females? Female attractiveness upregulates male reproductive physiology and behavior in zebra finches

Description

Testosterone (T) is a steroid hormone that affects behavior and reproductive traits (e.g. spermatogenesis and ornamentation) in vertebrates. In addition to long-term influences, T can rapidly increase in males following

Testosterone (T) is a steroid hormone that affects behavior and reproductive traits (e.g. spermatogenesis and ornamentation) in vertebrates. In addition to long-term influences, T can rapidly increase in males following aggressive male-male encounters. Less is known how females directly influence male T and behavior, though research with humans suggests that sexually attractive females elicit a greater increase in male T and reproductive behavior than unattractive females. In birds, the influence of female attractiveness on male T and behavior is currently untested. We hypothesized that T and courtship behavior in male zebra finches would correlate with female attractiveness. We used red leg bands to make females "attractive" and green bands to make them "unattractive" (unbanded females were controls) as previous research suggests that zebra finches prefer red colors over green in mating contexts. We collected blood from males before and after "speed-dating" trials to measure changes in plasma T and analyzed male courtship behaviors from trial video recordings. The likelihood of plasma T increasing after a trial was significantly greater in males who were with red-banded females compared to control females, suggesting males may find them more attractive than green or control females. Additionally, independent of band color, males who exhibited greater T differences initiated courtship sooner and spent more time closest to females. However, courtship initiation and time spent near females were not correlated with band color. Overall, our results suggest that female attractiveness can influence male reproductive physiology, but the presence of a female may trigger male courtship behavior.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014-05