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16 Nov 2018 at 01:33
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Bibliography on: Corvids: Behavior


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RJR: Recommended Bibliography 16 Nov 2018 at 01:33 Created: 

Corvids: Behavior

Audubon Magazine: Members of the crow family, known as the corvids, are among the smartest birds in the world. Some are capable of using tools, playing tricks, teaching each other new things, even holding "funerals." And yet there's still much we don't know about these fascinating, sometimes confounding creatures. All corvids have relatively big brains for their size. But while a seed storer like a Pinyon Jay or a nutcracker has a huge hippocampus — a region involved in memory — crows and ravens are more like primates. They have exceptionally large forebrains, the domain of analytical thought, higher-level sensory processing, and flexible behavior.

Created with PubMed® Query: (behavior OR behaviour OR ethology) AND \(corvus[TIAB] OR corvid[TIAB] OR OR corvids[TIAB] OR corvidae[TIAB] OR crow[TIAB] OR crows[TIAB] OR raven[TIAB] OR ravens[TIAB] OR jay[TIAB] OR jays[TIAB] OR magpie[TIAB] OR magpies[TIAB] OR jackdaw[TIAB] OR jackdaws[TIAB]) NOT pmcbook NOT ispreviousversion

Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)

RevDate: 2018-11-01
CmpDate: 2018-11-01

Hennefield L, Hwang HG, Weston SJ, et al (2018)

Meta-analytic techniques reveal that corvid causal reasoning in the Aesop's Fable paradigm is driven by trial-and-error learning.

Animal cognition, 21(6):735-748.

The classic Aesop's fable, Crow and the Pitcher, has inspired a major line of research in comparative cognition. Over the past several years, five articles (over 32 experiments) have examined the ability of corvids (e.g., rooks, crows, and jays) to complete lab-based analogs of this fable, by requiring them to drop stones and other objects into tubes of water to retrieve a floating worm (Bird and Emery in Curr Biol 19:1-5, 2009b; Cheke et al. in Anim Cogn 14:441-455, 2011; Jelbert et al. in PLoS One 3:e92895, 2014; Logan et al. in PLoS One 7:e103049, 2014; Taylor et al. in Gray R D 12:e26887, 2011). These researchers have stressed the unique potential of this paradigm for understanding causal reasoning in corvids. Ghirlanda and Lind (Anim Behav 123:239-247, 2017) re-evaluated trial-level data from these studies and concluded that initial preferences for functional objects, combined with trial-and-error learning, may account for subjects' performance on key variants of the paradigm. In the present paper, we use meta-analytic techniques to provide more precise information about the rate and mode of learning that occurs within and across tasks. Within tasks, subjects learned from successful (but not unsuccessful) actions, indicating that higher-order reasoning about phenomena such as mass, volume, and displacement is unlikely to be involved. Furthermore, subjects did not transfer information learned in one task to subsequent tasks, suggesting that corvids do not engage with these tasks as variants of the same problem (i.e., how to generate water displacement to retrieve a floating worm). Our methodological analysis and empirical findings raise the question: Can Aesop's fable studies distinguish between trial-and-error learning and/or higher-order causal reasoning? We conclude they cannot.

RevDate: 2018-10-25

Ling H, Mclvor GE, Nagy G, et al (2018)

Simultaneous measurements of three-dimensional trajectories and wingbeat frequencies of birds in the field.

Journal of the Royal Society, Interface, 15(147): pii:rsif.2018.0653.

Tracking the movements of birds in three dimensions is integral to a wide range of problems in animal ecology, behaviour and cognition. Multi-camera stereo-imaging has been used to track the three-dimensional (3D) motion of birds in dense flocks, but precise localization of birds remains a challenge due to imaging resolution in the depth direction and optical occlusion. This paper introduces a portable stereo-imaging system with improved accuracy and a simple stereo-matching algorithm that can resolve optical occlusion. This system allows us to decouple body and wing motion, and thus measure not only velocities and accelerations but also wingbeat frequencies along the 3D trajectories of birds. We demonstrate these new methods by analysing six flocking events consisting of 50 to 360 jackdaws (Corvus monedula) and rooks (Corvus frugilegus) as well as 32 jackdaws and 6 rooks flying in isolated pairs or alone. Our method allows us to (i) measure flight speed and wingbeat frequency in different flying modes; (ii) characterize the U-shaped flight performance curve of birds in the wild, showing that wingbeat frequency reaches its minimum at moderate flight speeds; (iii) examine group effects on individual flight performance, showing that birds have a higher wingbeat frequency when flying in a group than when flying alone and when flying in dense regions than when flying in sparse regions; and (iv) provide a potential avenue for automated discrimination of bird species. We argue that the experimental method developed in this paper opens new opportunities for understanding flight kinematics and collective behaviour in natural environments.

RevDate: 2018-10-15
CmpDate: 2018-10-15

Komar N, Panella NA, Golnar AJ, et al (2018)

Forage Ratio Analysis of the Southern House Mosquito in College Station, Texas.

Vector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.), 18(9):485-490.

Culex quinquefasciatus is the principal vector of West Nile virus (WNV) in the South Central United States, yet limited data on host utilization are available. We evaluated host utilization over a 3-month period in 2013 in a residential landscape in College Station, Texas. PCR sequencing of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 1 gene permitted molecular identification of vertebrate bloodmeals to the species level. Forage ratio analysis identified bird species that were overutilized and underutilized by comparing community feeding index values to expected relative abundance values of bird species, derived from eBird data. Community feeding index values were also used in conjunction with reservoir competence data from the literature to generate reservoir capacity index values, a means of identifying relative importance of vertebrate reservoir hosts. Of 498 blood-engorged Cx. quinquefasciatus, 313 (62.9%) were identified to vertebrate species. The majority (95.5%) of bloodmeals originated from avian species with the remainder from mammals, but not humans. Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) was the principal host for mosquito feeding in June and July, but northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) became primary host in August. Forage ratio analysis revealed the overutilization of house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), American robin (Turdus migratorius), northern mockingbird, northern cardinal, white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica), and mourning dove (Zenaida macroura). Great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus), blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata), and Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) were under-utilized relative to availability. Reservoir capacity calculations suggested that northern mockingbird and northern cardinal were the principal amplifiers in the study area. These data identify the primary avian species contributing to the enzootic amplification of WNV in East-Central Texas and reveal that the heavy feeding on moderately competent hosts and no feeding on humans likely limit epidemics in this region.

RevDate: 2018-10-15
CmpDate: 2018-10-15

Davidson G, Miller R, Loissel E, et al (2017)

The development of support intuitions and object causality in juvenile Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius).

Scientific reports, 7:40062 pii:srep40062.

Knowledge about the causal relationship between objects has been studied extensively in human infants, and more recently in adult animals using differential looking time experiments. How knowledge about object support develops in non-human animals has yet to be explored. Here, we studied the ontogeny of support relations in Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius), a bird species known for its sophisticated cognitive abilities. Using an expectancy violation paradigm, we measured looking time responses to possible and impossible video and image stimuli. We also controlled for experience with different support types to determine whether the emergence of support intuitions is dependent upon specific interactions with objects, or if reasoning develops independently. At age 9 months, birds looked more at a tool moving a piece of cheese that was not in contact than one that was in direct contact. By the age of 6 months, birds that had not experienced string as a support to hold up objects looked more at impossible images with string hanging from below (unsupported), rather than above (supported). The development of support intuitions may be independent of direct experience with specific support, or knowledge gained from interactions with other objects may be generalised across contexts.

RevDate: 2018-10-04

Shin DA, Kim C, Yudoyono F, et al (2018)

Feasibility of Percutaneous Robot-Assisted Epiduroscopic System.

Pain physician, 21(5):E565-E571.

BACKGROUND: Endoscopy has replaced open surgery, especially in spinal surgery. Among them, image-guided epiduroscopy allows pain generators to be identified, including epidural adhesion, fibrotic tissues, root compression, and spinal stenosis. However, the heavy lead apron worn by pain physicians to avoid exposure to radiation can induce occupational hazards, such as orthopedic complications and radiation-induced cancer. Hence, we developed a robotic system to address these problems.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to evaluate the feasibility of a robot-controlled epiduroscopic system.

STUDY DESIGN: In vivo animal experiment.

SETTING: University in Republic of Korea.

METHODS: The robot-controlled epiduroscopic system was developed using the open architecture robot system (The Raven Surgical Robotic System, CITRIS, Berkley, CA, USA). The robotic system consists of a lab-made epiduroscope, steering section, robotic arm, and manipulator. For the in vivo study, 2 Yorkshire pigs were used to simulate an epiduroscopic procedure with the robotic system.

RESULTS: The insertion and steering of the catheter was performed safely, and epiduroscopic visualization was obtained without side effects. There were no device-related complications. Radiation exposure for the primary operator was 80% lower than the levels found during conventional epiduroscopic procedures. All live pigs showed normal behavior without any signs of pain. The mean time to reach the target region was less than 8 minutes.

LIMITATIONS: The epiduroscopic procedure was performed on pigs and not on humans. The dimensions of the spinal canal of pigs cannot compare to those of humans.

CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated the feasibility of the robot-assisted epiduroscopic system.

KEY WORDS: Epiduroscopy, robotic system, spine, pig, animal model.

RevDate: 2018-10-02
CmpDate: 2018-10-02

Fronzetti Colladon A, F Grippa (2018)

The Importance of Being Honest: Correlating Self-Report Accuracy and Network Centrality with Academic Performance.

The Journal of psychology, 152(5):304-324.

This study investigates the correlation of self-report accuracy with academic performance. The sample was composed of 289 undergraduate students (96 senior and 193 junior) enrolled in two engineering classes. Age ranged between 22 and 24 years, with a slight over representation of male students (53%). Academic performance was calculated based on students' final grades in each class. The tendency to report inaccurate information was measured at the end of the Raven Progressive Matrices Test, by asking students to report their exact finishing times. We controlled for gender, age, personality traits, intelligence, and past academic performance. We also included measures of centrality in their friendship, advice and trust networks. Correlation and multiple regression analyses results indicate that lower achieving students were significantly less accurate in self-reporting data. We also found that being more central in the advice network was correlated with higher performance (r = .20, p < .001). The results are aligned with existing literature emphasizing the individual and relational factors associated with academic performance and, pending future studies, may be utilized to include a new metric of self-report accuracy that is not dependent on academic records.

RevDate: 2018-09-26

Elderbrock EK, Small TW, SJ Schoech (2018)

Adult Provisioning Influences Nestling Corticosterone Levels in Florida Scrub Jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens).

Physiological and biochemical zoology : PBZ, 91(6):1083-1090.

We studied Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) nestlings to examine the relationship between parental feeding rates and levels of corticosterone (CORT), a metabolic and stress-related steroid hormone hypothesized to play a role in mediating begging behavior. It has been documented that nutritional deficiency results in increased glucocorticoid levels in nestling birds. Further, previous studies have found that CORT levels of Florida scrub jay nestlings are negatively correlated with parental nest attendance and provisioning rates; however, the behavioral observations were made several days before the collection of samples to assess CORT levels. Few studies have investigated whether experience immediately before sampling impacts nestling glucocorticoid levels, especially in a free-living species. By monitoring parental activity at the nest before sample collection, we found that nestling CORT levels varied as a function of parental provisioning rate and the time since their last feed. However, counter to our predictions, higher provisioning rates and more recent feedings were associated with higher CORT levels in nestlings rather than lower CORT levels. These results suggest that some aspect of parental provisioning results in increased CORT levels in nestling Florida scrub jays.

RevDate: 2018-09-21

Ganz K, Jenni L, Madry MM, et al (2018)

Acute and Chronic Lead Exposure in Four Avian Scavenger Species in Switzerland.

Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology pii:10.1007/s00244-018-0561-7 [Epub ahead of print].

Despite irrefutable evidence of its negative impact on animal behaviour and physiology, lethal and sublethal lead poisoning of wildlife is still persistent and widespread. For scavenging birds, ingestion of ammunition, or fragments thereof, is the major exposure route. In this study, we examined the occurrence of lead in four avian scavengers of Switzerland and how it differs between species, regions, and age of the bird. We measured lead concentration in liver and bone of the two main alpine avian scavengers (golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos and bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus) over the entire area of the Swiss Alps and two of the main avian scavengers occurring in the lowlands of Switzerland (red kite Milvus milvus and common raven Corvus corax). Of those four species, only the bearded vulture is an obligate scavenger. We found that lead burdens in the two alpine avian scavengers were higher than those found for the same species elsewhere in Europe or North America and reached levels compatible with acute poisoning, whereas lead burdens of the two lowland avian scavengers seemed to be lower. Several golden eagles, but only one red kite with abnormally high bone lead concentrations were found. In all four species, a substantial proportion of birds had elevated levels which presumably represent recent (liver lead levels) or past (bone lead levels) uptake of sublethal doses of lead.

RevDate: 2018-09-17

Townsend AK, Taff CC, Jones ML, et al (2018)

Apparent inbreeding preference despite inbreeding depression in the American crow.

Molecular ecology [Epub ahead of print].

Although matings between relatives can have negative effects on offspring fitness, apparent inbreeding preference has been reported in a growing number of systems, including those with documented inbreeding depression. Here, we examined evidence for inbreeding depression and inbreeding preference in two populations (Clinton, New York and Davis, California, USA) of the cooperatively breeding American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos). We then compared observed inbreeding strategies with theoretical expectations for optimal, adaptive levels of inbreeding, given the inclusive fitness benefits and population-specific magnitude of inbreeding depression. We found that low heterozygosity at a panel of 33 microsatellite markers was associated with low survival probability (fledging success) and low white blood cell counts among offspring in both populations. Despite these costs, our data were more consistent with inbreeding preference than avoidance: the observed heterozygosity among 396 sampled crow offspring was significantly lower than expected if local adults were mating by random chance. This pattern was consistent across a range of spatial scales in both populations. Theoretically adaptive levels of inbreeding, given the magnitude of inbreeding depression, were predicted to be very low in the California population, whereas complete disassociative mating was predicted in the New York population. Sexual conflict might have contributed to the apparent absence of inbreeding avoidance in crows. These data add to an increasing number of examples of an "inbreeding paradox," where inbreeding appears to be preferred despite inbreeding depression. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

RevDate: 2018-09-14

Simonds VW, Kim FL, LaVeaux D, et al (2018)

Guardians of the Living Water: Using a Health Literacy Framework to Evaluate a Child as Change Agent Intervention.

Health education & behavior : the official publication of the Society for Public Health Education [Epub ahead of print].

BACKGROUND: American Indian communities in the United States experience considerable health inequities, including increased exposure to environmental contaminants. Consequently, community members of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation identified the lack of water-related environmental knowledge among children as an area of concern.

AIM: The purpose of this study was to provide a feasibility evaluation of an increasingly sophisticated environmental health literacy program for children.

METHOD: A community-academic partnership developed and piloted the Guardians of the Living Water program to increase environmental health literacy among children and their families on the Crow reservation. Nutbeam's framework for health literacy, a schema based on functional, interactive, and critical literacy, shaped the program evaluation. We used a within-subjects, quasi-experimental design without a control group. Interviews with children and parents were used to assess the feasibility of the program, while pre-/posttests assessed changes in knowledge, skills, and behavior.

RESULTS: Compared with preintervention responses, those from postintervention indicated significant increases for selected knowledge and attitude components. Based on qualitative interviews with children and caregivers, the camp was a valuable experience and increased knowledge of water quality science and reinforced cultural knowledge.

DISCUSSION: This success of our program stems from the trust initially built between partners and then expanded throughout the community. The program and the evaluation benefited from both the health literacy framework and from our integration of Apsáalooke values.

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that a community-based intervention designed to increase environmental health literacy among youth and their social networks is feasible and acceptable to this American Indian community.

RevDate: 2018-09-13
CmpDate: 2018-09-13

Costello KA (2018)

A no-man's-land of sex: Reading Stephen Gordon and "her" critics.

Journal of lesbian studies, 22(2):165-184.

One of the most read novels of lesbian, transgender, and queer criticism, Radclyffe Hall's novel The Well of Loneliness (1928) has given rise to numerous and contradictory interpretations of the protagonist Stephen Gordon's complex relationship to her body. Some have argued that she is a historically specific example of female masculinity, others that she is a lesbian who wishes she were more feminine, and others still that she is a prototypical transsexual character. Focusing on the exemplary essays by Jack Halberstam, Teresa de Lauretis, and Jay Prosser, I argue that the coexistence of mutually exclusive interpretations of Stephen Gordon's relationship to her femaleness suggests that the novel is, in fact, a demand to readers to unmoor identity from sex and to recognize what I call "sexual indeterminacy." Lesbian, transgender, and queer theory's tendency to elide the literariness of literary objects and their reliance on critique as the primary mode of reading and argumentation have made it impossible for critics to see that the novel is explicitly about what cannot be settled.

RevDate: 2018-09-11

Wheatcroft D, TD Price (2018)

Collective Action Promoted by Key Individuals.

The American naturalist, 192(4):401-414.

Explaining why individuals participate in risky group behaviors has been a long-term challenge. We experimentally studied the formation of groups of birds (mobs) that aggressively confront predators and avian nest parasites and developed a theoretical model to evaluate the conditions under which mobs arise. We presented taxidermied mounts of predators on adult birds (hawks and owls) and of nest threats (crows and cuckoos) at different distances to nests of Phylloscopus warblers. Even when alone, birds are aggressive toward predators of adult birds, both at and away from their nests. By contrast, birds aggressively confront nest threats alone only when they have a nest nearby. However, strong initial responses by nest owners lead individuals without nearby nests to increase their responses, thereby generating a mob. Building on these findings, we derive the conditions in which individuals are incentivized to invest more when joining a high-gain individual compared to when acting alone. Strong responses of high-gain individuals acting alone tend to reduce the investments of other high-gain individuals that subsequently join. However, individuals that benefit sufficiently little from acting alone increase their investments when joining a high-gain individual and can even be sufficiently incentivized to join in when they would otherwise not act alone. Together, these results suggest an important role for key individuals in the generation of some group behaviors.

RevDate: 2018-08-21

Mason LD, Wardell-Johnson G, Luxton SJ, et al (2018)

Predators Show Seasonal Predilections for Model Clay Spiders in an Urban Environment.

Scientific reports, 8(1):12444 pii:10.1038/s41598-018-30778-y.

Predator-prey interactions may be altered under human-induced rapid environmental change, such as urbanisation. Extensive clearing in urban areas may leave short-range endemic species, such as mygalomorph spiders, more vulnerable to local extinction through predation in remaining remnants. Predation rates on Australian mygalomorph spiders were assessed using clay models of two size classes (5 cm, 3 cm), during two time periods in 2016 (January-February, July-August). Size and phenology of models resembled the mygalomorph genera Aname and Teyl occurring in these local urban remnants. Local predator guilds were significantly influenced by leaf-litter cover (%) and proportion of surrounding parkland. Preference for spider vs. control models was consistent across all predator types (bird, rodent, lizard and wasp), but specialist spider wasps (Pompilidae) only attacked spider models. Generalist predators (birds, lizards and rodents) were more opportunistic. Lizards and rodents exhibit similar predation behaviour, indicating there may be some inter-specific competition. Invasive generalists (e. g. rodents) or urban adapters (e. g. corvids) are more likely to represent an increased threat to spiders than are co-evolved specialists (e.g. spider wasps).

RevDate: 2018-08-16
CmpDate: 2018-08-16

Kabadayi C, Krasheninnikova A, O'Neill L, et al (2017)

Are parrots poor at motor self-regulation or is the cylinder task poor at measuring it?.

Animal cognition, 20(6):1137-1146.

The ability to inhibit unproductive motor responses triggered by salient stimuli is a fundamental inhibitory skill. Such motor self-regulation is thought to underlie more complex cognitive mechanisms, like self-control. Recently, a large-scale study, comparing 36 species, found that absolute brain size best predicted competence in motor inhibition, with great apes as the best performers. This was challenged when three Corvus species (corvids) were found to parallel great apes despite having much smaller absolute brain sizes. However, new analyses suggest that it is the number of pallial neurons, and not absolute brain size per se, that correlates with levels of motor inhibition. Both studies used the cylinder task, a detour-reaching test where food is presented behind a transparent barrier. We tested four species from the order Psittaciformes (parrots) on this task. Like corvids, many parrots have relatively large brains, high numbers of pallial neurons, and solve challenging cognitive tasks. Nonetheless, parrots performed markedly worse than the Corvus species in the cylinder task and exhibited strong learning effects in performance and response times. Our results suggest either that parrots are poor at controlling their motor impulses, and hence that pallial neuronal numbers do not always correlate with such skills, or that the widely used cylinder task may not be a good measure of motor inhibition.

RevDate: 2018-08-16
CmpDate: 2018-08-16

Kraft FL, Forštová T, Utku Urhan A, et al (2017)

No evidence for self-recognition in a small passerine, the great tit (Parus major) judged from the mark/mirror test.

Animal cognition, 20(6):1049-1057.

Self-recognition is a trait presumed to be associated with high levels of cognition and something previously considered to be exclusive to humans and possibly apes. The most common test of self-recognition is the mark/mirror test of whether an animal can understand that it sees its own reflection in a mirror. The usual design is that an animal is marked with a colour spot somewhere on the body where the spot can only be seen by the animal by using a mirror. Very few species have passed this test, and among birds, only magpies have been affirmatively demonstrated to pass it. In this study, we tested great tits (Parus major), small passerines, that are known for their innovative foraging skills and good problem-solving abilities, in the mirror self-recognition test. We found no indication that they have any ability of this kind and believe that they are unlikely to be capable of this type of self-recognition.

RevDate: 2018-08-08
CmpDate: 2018-08-08

Lim SM, Geervliet M, Verhagen JH, et al (2018)

Serologic evidence of West Nile virus and Usutu virus infections in Eurasian coots in the Netherlands.

Zoonoses and public health, 65(1):96-102.

West Nile virus (WNV) and Usutu virus (USUV) are arboviruses that are maintained in enzootic transmission cycles between mosquitoes and birds and are occasionally transmitted to mammals. As arboviruses are currently expanding their geographic range and emerging in often unpredictable locations, surveillance is considered an important element of preparedness. To determine whether sera collected from resident and migratory birds in the Netherlands as part of avian influenza surveillance would also represent an effective source for proactive arbovirus surveillance, a random selection of such sera was screened for WNV antibodies using a commercial ELISA. In addition, sera of jackdaws and carrion crows captured for previous experimental infection studies were added to the selection. Of the 265 screened serum samples, 27 were found to be WNV-antibody-positive, and subsequent cross-neutralization experiments using WNV and USUV confirmed that five serum samples were positive for only WNV-neutralizing antibodies and seven for only USUV. The positive birds consisted of four Eurasian coots (Fulica atra) and one carrion crow (Corvus corone) for WNV, of which the latter may suggest local presence of the virus, and only Eurasian coots for USUV. As a result, the screening of a small selection of serum samples originally collected for avian influenza surveillance demonstrated a seroprevalence of 1.6% for WNV and 2.8% for USUV, suggesting that this sustained infrastructure could serve as a useful source for future surveillance of arboviruses such as WNV and USUV in the Netherlands.

RevDate: 2018-08-03

Campo JV, JA Bridge (2018)

Exploring the Impact of 13 Reasons Why: Looking for Light Amidst the Heat . . .

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 57(8):547-549.

A Letter to the Editor by Kieling and collegues1 in this month's Journal attempts to explore the impact of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why (13RW) on the thinking and behavior of adolescent viewers. The series is an adaptation of a 2007 novel by Jay Asher, and tells the story of an adolescent girl who dies by suicide following a series of traumas and disappointments that she catalogues before her death on 13 audiotapes. The tapes are left behind with the expectation that each of the individuals presumably responsible for her suicide will listen and better understand their individual and collective failures. Since its release and airing in 2017, the show has generated considerable heated debate and controversy, largely due to concerns about its potential for suicide contagion.

RevDate: 2018-08-03

Sutton JT, Helmkampf M, Steiner CC, et al (2018)

A High-Quality, Long-Read De Novo Genome Assembly to Aid Conservation of Hawaii's Last Remaining Crow Species.

Genes, 9(8): pii:genes9080393.

Abstract: Genome-level data can provide researchers with unprecedented precision to examine the causes and genetic consequences of population declines, which can inform conservation management. Here, we present a high-quality, long-read, de novo genome assembly for one of the world's most endangered bird species, the 'Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis; Hawaiian crow). As the only remaining native crow species in Hawai'i, the 'Alalā survived solely in a captive-breeding program from 2002 until 2016, at which point a long-term reintroduction program was initiated. The high-quality genome assembly was generated to lay the foundation for both comparative genomics studies and the development of population-level genomic tools that will aid conservation and recovery efforts. We illustrate how the quality of this assembly places it amongst the very best avian genomes assembled to date, comparable to intensively studied model systems. We describe the genome architecture in terms of repetitive elements and runs of homozygosity, and we show that compared with more outbred species, the 'Alalā genome is substantially more homozygous. We also provide annotations for a subset of immunity genes that are likely to be important in conservation management, and we discuss how this genome is currently being used as a roadmap for downstream conservation applications.

RevDate: 2018-07-17

Gonçalves A, D Biro (2018)

Comparative thanatology, an integrative approach: exploring sensory/cognitive aspects of death recognition in vertebrates and invertebrates.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 373(1754):.

Evolutionary thanatology benefits from broad taxonomic comparisons of non-human animals' responses to death. Furthermore, exploring the sensory and cognitive bases of these responses promises to allow classification of the underlying mechanisms on a spectrum from phylogenetically ancient to more derived traits. We draw on studies of perception and cognition in invertebrate and vertebrate taxa (with a focus on arthropods, corvids, proboscids, cetaceans and primates) to explore the cues that these animals use to detect life and death in others, and discuss proximate and ultimate drivers behind their capacities to do so. Parallels in thanatological behaviour exhibited by the last four taxa suggest similar sensory-cognitive processing rules for dealing with corpses, the evolution of which may have been driven by complex social environments. Uniting these responses is a phenomenon we term 'animacy detection malfunction', whereupon the corpse, having both animate and inanimate attributes, creates states of fear/curiosity manifested as approach/avoidance behaviours in observers. We suggest that integrating diverse lines of evidence (including the 'uncanny valley' effect originating from the field of robotics) provides a promising way to advance the field, and conclude by proposing avenues for future research.This article is part of the theme issue 'Evolutionary thanatology: impacts of the dead on the living in humans and other animals'.

RevDate: 2018-07-17

Swift K, JM Marzluff (2018)

Occurrence and variability of tactile interactions between wild American crows and dead conspecifics.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 373(1754):.

Observations of some mammals and birds touching their dead provoke questions about the motivation and adaptive value of this potentially risky behaviour. Here, we use controlled experiments to determine if tactile interactions are characteristic of wild American crow responses to dead crows, and what the prevalence and nature of tactile interactions suggests about their motivations. In Experiment 1, we test if food or information acquisition motivates contact by presenting crows with taxidermy-prepared dead crows, and two species crows are known to scavenge: dead pigeons and dead squirrels. In Experiment 2, we test if territoriality motivates tactile interactions by presenting crows with taxidermy crows prepared to look either dead or upright and life-like. In Experiment 1, we find that crows are significantly less likely to make contact but more likely to alarm call and recruit other birds in response to dead crows than to dead pigeons and squirrels. In addition, we find that aggressive and sexual encounters with dead crows are seasonally biased. These findings are inconsistent with feeding or information acquisition-based motivation. In Experiment 2, we find that crows rarely dive-bomb and more often alarm call and recruit other crows to dead than to life-like crows, behaviours inconsistent with responses given to live intruders. Consistent with a danger response hypothesis, our results show that alarm calling and neighbour recruitment occur more frequently in response to dead crows than other stimuli, and that touching dead crows is atypical. Occasional contacts, which take a variety of aggressive and sexual forms, may result from an inability to mediate conflicting stimuli.This article is part of the theme issue 'Evolutionary thanatology: impacts of the dead on the living in humans and other animals'.

RevDate: 2018-07-11

Smulders TV (2018)

Smarter through group living?.

Learning & behavior pii:10.3758/s13420-018-0335-0 [Epub ahead of print].

Wild Australian magpies living (or growing up) in larger social groups take fewer trials to solve a battery of four cognitive tests than those living (or growing up) in smaller groups. The tests all draw on a common underlying factor, but is this factor cognitive or motivational?

RevDate: 2018-06-21

Hampton R (2018)

Parallel overinterpretation of behavior of apes and corvids.

Learning & behavior pii:10.3758/s13420-018-0330-5 [Epub ahead of print].

The report by Kabadayi and Osvath (Science, 357(6347), 202-204, 2017) does not demonstrate planning in ravens. The behavior of corvids and apes is fascinating and will be best appreciated through well-designed experiments that explicitly test alternative explanations and that are interpreted without unjustified anthropomorphic embellishment.

RevDate: 2018-06-26

Szipl G, Ringler E, T Bugnyar (2018)

Attacked ravens flexibly adjust signalling behaviour according to audience composition.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 285(1880):.

A fundamental attribute of social intelligence is the ability to monitor third-party relationships, which has been repeatedly demonstrated in primates, and recently also in captive ravens. It is yet unknown how ravens make use of this ability when dealing with different types of social relationships simultaneously during complex real-life situations. Free-ranging non-breeder ravens live in societies characterized by high fission-fusion dynamics and structured by age, pair-bond status and kinship. Here, we show that free-ranging ravens modify communication during conflicts according to audience composition. When being attacked by dominant conspecifics, victims of aggression signal their distress via defensive calls. Victims increased call rates when their kin were in the bystander audience, but reduced call rates when the bystanders were bonding partners of their aggressors. Hence, ravens use social knowledge flexibly and probably based on their own need (i.e. alert nearby allies and avoid alerting nearby rivals).

RevDate: 2018-06-17

Stow MK, Vernouillet A, DM Kelly (2018)

Neophobia does not account for motoric self-regulation performance as measured during the detour-reaching cylinder task.

Animal cognition, 21(4):565-574.

The ability to restrain a prepotent response in favor of a more adaptive behavior, or to exert inhibitory control, has been used as a measure of a species' cognitive abilities. Inhibitory control defines a spectrum of behaviors varying in complexity, ranging from self-control to motoric self-regulation. Several factors underlying inhibitory control have been identified, however, the influence of neophobia (i.e., aversion to novelty) on inhibitory control has not received much attention. Neophobia is known to affect complex cognitive abilities, but whether neophobia also influences more basic cognitive abilities, such as motoric self-regulation, has received less attention. Further, it remains unclear whether an individual's response to novelty is consistent across different paradigms purported to assess neophobia. We tested two North American corvid species, black-billed magpies (Pica hudsonia) and California scrub jays (Aphelocoma californica) using two well-established neophobia paradigms to assess response stability between contexts. We then evaluated neophobia scores against the number of trials needed to learn a motoric self-regulation task, as well as subsequent task performance. Neophobia scores did not correlate across paradigms, nor did the responses during either paradigm account for motoric self-regulation performance.

RevDate: 2018-05-16

Monshizadeh L, Vameghi R, Sajedi F, et al (2018)

Comparison of Social Interaction between Cochlear-Implanted Children with Normal Intelligence Undergoing Auditory Verbal Therapy and Normal-Hearing Children: A Pilot Study.

The journal of international advanced otology, 14(1):34-38.

OBJECTIVE: A cochlear implant is a device that helps hearing-impaired children by transmitting sound signals to the brain and helping them improve their speech, language, and social interaction. Although various studies have investigated the different aspects of speech perception and language acquisition in cochlear-implanted children, little is known about their social skills, particularly Persian-speaking cochlear-implanted children. Considering the growing number of cochlear implants being performed in Iran and the increasing importance of developing near-normal social skills as one of the ultimate goals of cochlear implantation, this study was performed to compare the social interaction between Iranian cochlear-implanted children who have undergone rehabilitation (auditory verbal therapy) after surgery and normal-hearing children.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This descriptive-analytical study compared the social interaction level of 30 children with normal hearing and 30 with cochlear implants who were conveniently selected. The Raven test was administered to the both groups to ensure normal intelligence quotient. The social interaction status of both groups was evaluated using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, and statistical analysis was performed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21.

RESULTS: After controlling age as a covariate variable, no significant difference was observed between the social interaction scores of both the groups (p > 0.05). In addition, social interaction had no correlation with sex in either group.

CONCLUSION: Cochlear implantation followed by auditory verbal rehabilitation helps children with sensorineural hearing loss to have normal social interactions, regardless of their sex.

RevDate: 2018-05-28
CmpDate: 2018-05-28

Hammer MP, Allen GR, Martin KC, et al (2018)

Revision of the Australian Wet Tropics endemic rainbowfish genus Cairnsichthys (Atheriniformes: Melanotaeniidae), with description of a new species.

Zootaxa, 4413(2):271-294 pii:zootaxa.4413.2.3.

The freshwater melanotaeniid genus Cairnsichthys is endemic to a relatively small area of specialised habitat within the Wet Tropics bioregion of north-eastern Queensland, Australia. It was previously considered as monotypic, including only a single species, C. rhombosomoides (Nichols Raven, 1928). The recent discovery of an apparently-isolated population in the Daintree rainforest, approximately 120 km north of the known range extent, prompted a detailed investigation of its taxonomic status using a combined lines of evidence approach. We provide compelling evidence from multiple nuclear genetic markers (52 allozyme loci), mitochondrial DNA sequence data (1141 bp cytochrome b) and morphology (examination of a suite of 38 morphometric and meristic characters) that supports north-south splitting of C. rhombosomoides. Accordingly, we describe the northern population as a distinct species, C. bitaeniatus sp. nov., on the basis of 25 specimens, 34.7-65.6 mm SL. The new species differs morphologically primarily by having a more slender and narrow shape, featuring a flatter, straighter predorsal profile and shorter second dorsal fin base; possession of slightly smaller scales, reflected in higher counts of lateral scales and predorsal scales; typically more vertebrae; and colour differences including a more robust, short black stripe across the upper operculum, a pronounced yellow patch on the anteroventral body and usually a more conspicuous second dark stripe on the lower body, with adult males generally having yellowish compared to reddish fins. We also provide a generic diagnosis for Cairnsichthys and a redescription of C. rhombosomoides. Information on the known distribution, habitats and conservation status of species in the genus is summarised, the new species being of particular concern as a narrow range endemic with specific environmental requirements.

RevDate: 2018-05-15

Duque JF, Leichner W, Ahmann H, et al (2018)

Mesotocin influences pinyon jay prosociality.

Biology letters, 14(4):.

Many species exhibit prosocial behaviour, in which one individual's actions benefit another individual, often without an immediate benefit to itself. The neuropeptide oxytocin is an important hormonal mechanism influencing prosociality in mammals, but it is unclear whether the avian homologue mesotocin plays a similar functional role in birds. Here, we experimentally tested prosociality in pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus), a highly social corvid species that spontaneously shares food with others. First, we measured prosocial preferences in a prosocial choice task with two different pay-off distributions: Prosocial trials delivered food to both the subject and either an empty cage or a partner bird, whereas Altruism trials delivered food only to an empty cage or a partner bird (none to subject). In a second experiment, we examined whether administering mesotocin influenced prosocial preferences. Compared to choices in a control condition, we show that subjects voluntarily delivered food rewards to partners, but only when also receiving food for themselves (Prosocial trials), and administration of high levels of mesotocin increased these behaviours. Thus, in birds, mesotocin seems to play a similar functional role in facilitating prosocial behaviours as oxytocin does in mammals, suggesting an evolutionarily conserved hormonal mechanism for prosociality.

RevDate: 2018-03-28

Brecht KF, Ostojić L, Legg EW, et al (2018)

Difficulties when using video playback to investigate social cognition in California scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica).

PeerJ, 6:e4451 pii:4451.

Previous research has suggested that videos can be used to experimentally manipulate social stimuli. In the present study, we used the California scrub-jays' cache protection strategies to assess whether video playback can be used to simulate conspecifics in a social context. In both the lab and the field, scrub-jays are known to exhibit a range of behaviours to protect their caches from potential pilferage by a conspecific, for example by hiding food in locations out of the observer's view or by re-caching previously made caches once the observer has left. Here, we presented scrub-jays with videos of a conspecific observer as well as two non-social conditions during a caching period and assessed whether they would cache out of the observer's "view" (Experiment 1) or would re-cache their caches once the observer was no longer present (Experiment 2). In contrast to previous studies using live observers, the scrub-jays' caching and re-caching behaviour was not influenced by whether the observer was present or absent. These findings suggest that there might be limitations in using video playback of social agents to mimic real-life situations when investigating corvid decision making.

RevDate: 2018-03-25

Boeckle M, Szipl G, T Bugnyar (2018)

Raven food calls indicate sender's age and sex.

Frontiers in zoology, 15:5 pii:255.

Background: Acoustic parameters of animal signals have been shown to correlate with various phenotypic characteristics of the sender. These acoustic characteristics can be learned and categorized and thus are a basis for perceivers' recognition abilities. One of the most demanding capacities is individual recognition, achievable only after repeated interactions with the same individual. Still, class-level recognition might be potentially important to perceivers who have not previously encountered callers but can classify unknown individuals according to the already learned categories. Especially for species with high fission-fusion dynamics that repeatedly encounter unknown individuals it may be advantageous to develop class-level recognition. We tested whether frequency-, temporal-, and amplitude-related acoustic parameters of vocalizations emitted by ravens, a species showing high fission-fusion dynamics in non-breeder aggregations, are connected to phenotypic characteristics and thus have the potential for class-level recognition.

Results: The analysis of 418 food calls revealed that some components summarizing acoustic parameters were differentiated by age-classes and sex.

Conclusions: Together, the results provide evidence for the co-variation of vocal characteristics and respective sex and age categories, a prerequisite for class-level recognition in perceivers. Perceivers that are ignorant of the caller's identity can thus potentially recognize these class-level differences for decision-making processes in feeding contexts.

RevDate: 2018-03-04

Pesendorfer MB, Sillett TS, SA Morrison (2017)

Spatially biased dispersal of acorns by a scatter-hoarding corvid may accelerate passive restoration of oak habitat on California's largest island.

Current zoology, 63(4):363-367.

Scatter hoarding by corvids (crows, jays, magpies, and nutcrackers) provides seed dispersal for many large-seeded plants, including oaks and pines. When hoarding seeds, corvids often choose nonrandom locations throughout the landscape, resulting in differential survival of seeds. In the context of habitat restoration, such disproportional storing of seeds in areas suitable for germination and establishment can accelerate expansion and recovery of large-seeded tree populations and their associated ecosystems. Here, we investigate the spatial preferences of island scrub jays Aphelocoma insularis during scatter hoarding of acorns (Quercus spp.) on Santa Cruz Island. We use a large behavioral data set on the birds' behavior in combination with seedling surveys and spatial analysis to determine whether 1) island scrub jays disproportionally cache seeds in specific habitat types, and 2) whether the preferred habitat type is suitable for oak regeneration. Our results show that the jays nonrandomly cache acorns across the landscape; they use chaparral and coastal sage scrub disproportionally while avoiding open and grassy areas. The areas used most often for caching were also the areas with the highest oak seedling densities. We discuss the potential role of these findings for the recovery of Santa Cruz Island's oak habitat since the 1980s.

RevDate: 2018-06-11
CmpDate: 2018-06-11

Ashton BJ, Ridley AR, Edwards EK, et al (2018)

Cognitive performance is linked to group size and affects fitness in Australian magpies.

Nature, 554(7692):364-367.

The social intelligence hypothesis states that the demands of social life drive cognitive evolution. This idea receives support from comparative studies that link variation in group size or mating systems with cognitive and neuroanatomical differences across species, but findings are contradictory and contentious. To understand the cognitive consequences of sociality, it is also important to investigate social variation within species. Here we show that in wild, cooperatively breeding Australian magpies, individuals that live in large groups show increased cognitive performance, which is linked to increased reproductive success. Individual performance was highly correlated across four cognitive tasks, indicating a 'general intelligence factor' that underlies cognitive performance. Repeated cognitive testing of juveniles at different ages showed that the correlation between group size and cognition emerged in early life, suggesting that living in larger groups promotes cognitive development. Furthermore, we found a positive association between the task performance of females and three indicators of reproductive success, thus identifying a selective benefit of greater cognitive performance. Together, these results provide intraspecific evidence that sociality can shape cognitive development and evolution.

RevDate: 2018-02-14

Stanford R, Lockley MG, Tucker C, et al (2018)

A diverse mammal-dominated, footprint assemblage from wetland deposits in the Lower Cretaceous of Maryland.

Scientific reports, 8(1):741 pii:10.1038/s41598-017-18619-w.

A newly discovered assemblage of predominantly small tracks from the Cretaceous Patuxent Formation at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland, reveals one of the highest track densities and diversities ever reported (~70 tracks, representing at least eight morphotypes from an area of only ~2 m2). The assemblage is dominated by small mammal tracks including the new ichnotxon Sederipes goddardensis, indicating sitting postures. Small crow-sized theropod trackways, the first from this unit, indicate social trackmakers and suggest slow-paced foraging behavior. Tracks of pterosaurs, and other small vertebrates suggest activity on an organic-rich substrate. Large well-preserved sauropod and nodosaurs tracks indicate the presence of large dinosaurs. The Patuxent Formation together with the recently reported Angolan assemblage comprise the world's two largest Mesozoic mammal footprint assemblages. The high density of footprint registration at the NASA site indicates special preservational and taphonomic conditions. These include early, penecontemporaneous deposition of siderite in organic rich, reducing wetland settings where even the flesh of body fossils can be mummified. Thus, the track-rich ironstone substrates of the Patuxent Formation, appear to preserve a unique vertebrate ichnofacies, with associated, exceptionally-preserved body fossil remains for which there are currently no other similar examples preserved in the fossil record.

RevDate: 2018-01-29

Maziarz M, Piggott C, M Burgess (2018)

Predator recognition and differential behavioural responses of adult wood warblers Phylloscopus sibilatrix.

Acta ethologica, 21(1):13-20.

Birds often engage in nest defence against predators to improve breeding success, but defence efficiency requires the capability to assess the threat level posed by potential predators. For species with low breeding-site tenacity, which may encounter varying occurrence and density of predators in different areas, threat recognition could be compromised due to naivety, and so predator recognition may focus on broad key features to diminish the risk of misidentification. We experimentally tested this hypothesis by recording behavioural reactions of the nomadic wood warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix to objects reflecting various levels of threat: least weasel and Eurasian jay taxidermy mounts, an inanimate object and an empty display mount. To assess actual nest predators, we used remote cameras to record predation events at wood warbler nests. As in other studies in Western Europe, Eurasian jay was found to be the main nest predator, with occasional predation by least weasel. The reaction of adult warblers to the models was generally to remain silent and on nests during the incubation stage presumably due to the need to maintain efficient nest camouflage and concealment. During the nestling stage, behavioural responses of adult warblers, calling and suspended feeding of young, showed the strongest effects from the jay taxidermy mount, moderate to the weasel and weakest to the inanimate object and empty mount. As the reaction of wood warblers reflected the degree of genuine threat posed by the predators depicted by the models, we conclude that predator recognition may be present in this species.

RevDate: 2018-05-22
CmpDate: 2018-05-22

Claes R, Muyshondt PGG, Dirckx JJJ, et al (2018)

Do high sound pressure levels of crowing in roosters necessitate passive mechanisms for protection against self-vocalization?.

Zoology (Jena, Germany), 126:65-70.

High sound pressure levels (>120dB) cause damage or death of the hair cells of the inner ear, hence causing hearing loss. Vocalization differences are present between hens and roosters. Crowing in roosters is reported to produce sound pressure levels of 100dB measured at a distance of 1m. In this study we measured the sound pressure levels that exist at the entrance of the outer ear canal. We hypothesize that roosters may benefit from a passive protective mechanism while hens do not require such a mechanism. Audio recordings at the level of the entrance of the outer ear canal of crowing roosters, made in this study, indeed show that a protective mechanism is needed as sound pressure levels can reach amplitudes of 142.3dB. Audio recordings made at varying distances from the crowing rooster show that at a distance of 0.5m sound pressure levels already drop to 102dB. Micro-CT scans of a rooster and chicken head show that in roosters the auditory canal closes when the beak is opened. In hens the diameter of the auditory canal only narrows but does not close completely. A morphological difference between the sexes in shape of a bursa-like slit which occurs in the outer ear canal causes the outer ear canal to close in roosters but not in hens.

RevDate: 2018-07-10

Shurulinkov P, Spasov L, Stoyanov G, et al (2018)

Blood parasite infections in a wild population of ravens (Corvus corax) in Bulgaria.

Malaria journal, 17(1):33 pii:10.1186/s12936-018-2179-7.

BACKGROUND: Blood parasites have been studied intensely in many families of avian hosts, but corvids, a particularly cosmopolitan family, remain underexplored. Haemosporidian parasites of the common raven (Corvus corax) have not been studied, although it is the largest, most adaptable, and widespread corvid. Genetic sequence data from parasites of ravens can enhance the understanding of speciation patterns and specificity of haemosporidian parasites in corvids, and shed light how these hosts cope with parasite pressure.

METHODS: A baited cage trap was used to catch 86 ravens and a nested PCR protocol was used to amplify a 479 bp fragment of the haemosporidian cytochrome b gene from the samples. The obtained sequences were compared with the MalAvi database of all published haemosporidian lineages and a phylogenetic tree including all detected raven parasites was constructed. An examination of blood smears was performed for assessment of infection intensity.

RESULTS: Twenty blood parasite lineages were recovered from ravens caught in a wild population in Bulgaria. The prevalence of generalist Plasmodium lineages was 49%, and the prevalence of Leucocytozoon lineages was 31%. Out of 13 detected Leucocytozoon lineages six were known from different corvids, while seven others seem to be specific to ravens. A phylogenetic reconstruction suggests that Leucocytozoon lineages of ravens and other corvids are not monophyletic, with some groups appearing closely related to parasites of other host families.

CONCLUSIONS: Several different, morphologically cryptic groups of Leucocytozoon parasites appear to infect corvids. Ravens harbour both generalist corvid Leucocytozoon as well as apparently species-specific lineages. The extraordinary breeding ecology and scavenging lifestyle possibly allow ravens to evade vectors and have relatively low blood parasite prevalence compared to other corvids.

RevDate: 2018-01-29
CmpDate: 2018-01-29

Morrison R, D Reiss (2018)

Precocious development of self-awareness in dolphins.

PloS one, 13(1):e0189813 pii:PONE-D-17-33444.

Mirror-self recognition (MSR) is a behavioral indicator of self-awareness in young children and only a few other species, including the great apes, dolphins, elephants and magpies. The emergence of self-awareness in children typically occurs during the second year and has been correlated with sensorimotor development and growing social and self-awareness. Comparative studies of MSR in chimpanzees report that the onset of this ability occurs between 2 years 4 months and 3 years 9 months of age. Studies of wild and captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) have reported precocious sensorimotor and social awareness during the first weeks of life, but no comparative MSR research has been conducted with this species. We exposed two young bottlenose dolphins to an underwater mirror and analyzed video recordings of their behavioral responses over a 3-year period. Here we report that both dolphins exhibited MSR, indicated by self-directed behavior at the mirror, at ages earlier than generally reported for children and at ages much earlier than reported for chimpanzees. The early onset of MSR in young dolphins occurs in parallel with their advanced sensorimotor development, complex and reciprocal social interactions, and growing social awareness. Both dolphins passed subsequent mark tests at ages comparable with children. Thus, our findings indicate that dolphins exhibit self-awareness at a mirror at a younger age than previously reported for children or other species tested.

RevDate: 2018-01-07

Szipl G, Ringler E, Spreafico M, et al (2017)

Calls during agonistic interactions vary with arousal and raise audience attention in ravens.

Frontiers in zoology, 14:57 pii:244.

Background: Acoustic properties of vocalizations can vary with the internal state of the caller, and may serve as reliable indicators for a caller's emotional state, for example to prevent conflicts. Thus, individuals may associate distinct characteristics in acoustic signals of conspecifics with specific social contexts, and adjust their behaviour accordingly to prevent escalation of conflicts. Common ravens (Corvus corax) crowd-forage with individuals of different age classes, sex, and rank, assemble at feeding sites, and engage in agonistic interactions of varying intensity. Attacked individuals frequently utter defensive calls in order to appease the aggressor. Here, we investigated if acoustic properties of defensive calls change with varying levels of aggression, and if bystanders respond to these changes.

Results: Individuals were more likely to utter defensive calls when the attack involved contact aggression, and when the attacker was higher in rank than the victim. Defensive calls produced during intense conflicts were longer and uttered at higher rates, and showed higher fundamental frequency- and amplitude-related measures than calls uttered during low-intensity aggression, indicating arousal-based changes in defensive calls. Playback experiments showed that ravens were more likely to react in response to defensive calls with higher fundamental frequency by orientating towards the speakers as compared to original calls and calls manipulated in duration.

Conclusions: Arousal-based changes are encoded in acoustic parameters of defensive calls in attacked ravens, and bystanders in the audience pay attention to the degree of arousal in attacked conspecifics. Our findings imply that common ravens can regulate conflicts with conspecifics by means of vocalizations, and are able to gather social knowledge from conspecific calls.

RevDate: 2018-07-06
CmpDate: 2018-07-06

Gallup GG, JR Anderson (2018)

The "olfactory mirror" and other recent attempts to demonstrate self-recognition in non-primate species.

Behavioural processes, 148:16-19.

The recent attempt by Horowitz (2017) to develop an "olfactory mirror" test of self-recognition in domestic dogs raises some important questions about the kinds of data that are required to provide definitive evidence for self-recognition in dogs and other species. We conclude that the "olfactory mirror" constitutes a compelling analog to the mark test for mirror self-recognition in primates, but despite claims to the contrary neither dogs, elephants, dolphins, magpies, horses, manta rays, squid, nor ants have shown compelling, reproducible evidence for self-recognition in any modality.

RevDate: 2018-03-05

Grúz A, Déri J, Szemerédy G, et al (2018)

Monitoring of heavy metal burden in wild birds at eastern/north-eastern part of Hungary.

Environmental science and pollution research international, 25(7):6378-6386.

Concentrations of different heavy metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Pb, Zn) were examined in the contour feathers of long-eared owl (Asio otus), little owl (Athene noctua), tawny owl (Strix aluco), barn owl (Tyto alba), Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), rook (Corvus frugilegus), hooded crow (Corvus cornix), carrion crow (Corvus corone), common buzzard (Buteo buteo) and barn swallow (Hirundo rustica). The samples were collected from the Hortobágyi Madárpark (Bird Hospital Foundation) in Hungary. The bird species were classified into six groups based on their nourishment. Feathers were analysed by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES). The aim of our study was to determine the concentration of the above-mentioned heavy metals in the six different groups and to compare them by the groups, to find a possible connection between the concentrations and the age of birds and to get some information about the heavy metal burden of the environment. The highest As concentration was measured in little owl (0.65 ± 0.56 mg/kg). The highest Cd, Cr and Pb concentration was found in the feathers of barn swallow (0.13 ± 0.06 mg/kg; 1.69 ± 0.44 mg/kg; 5.36 ± 1.46 mg/kg), while the highest Cu and Hg concentration (65.45 ± 17.66 mg/kg; 2.72 ± 1.08 mg/kg) in sparrowhawk feathers and the highest Zn concentration in owls (157.21 ± 57.3 mg/kg). Statistically significant difference has been determined between the juvenile and adult crows in the case of Cd (p = 0.011). The higher concentration was measured in adults (0.14 ± 0.04 mg/kg) than that in juveniles (0.08 ± 0.02 mg/kg). Based on our results, the examined area is not contaminated by these heavy metals on that level, which can cause any adverse effect or poisoning in birds, so this region is safe to wildlife.

RevDate: 2017-12-20

Kabadayi C, Jacobs I, M Osvath (2017)

The Development of Motor Self-Regulation in Ravens.

Frontiers in psychology, 8:2100.

Inhibitory control refers to the ability to stop impulses in favor of more appropriate behavior, and it constitutes one of the underlying cognitive functions associated with cognitive flexibility. Much attention has been given to cross-species comparisons of inhibitory control; however, less is known about how and when these abilities develop. Mapping the ontogeny of inhibitory control in different species may therefore reveal foundational elements behind cognitive processes and their evolution. In this study, we tested the development of motor self-regulation in raven chicks (Corvus corax), using two detour tasks that required inhibition of motor impulses to directly reach for a visible reward behind a barrier. One task included a mesh barrier, which partly occluded the reward, and the other task used a completely transparent barrier, the cylinder task. The results suggest that the more visible a reward is, the more difficult it is to inhibit motor impulses toward it, and further, that this inhibitory challenge gradually decreases during development. The mesh barrier is reliably detoured before the animals pass the task with the wholly transparent cylinder. As the majority of the birds begun testing as nestlings, and as we provided them with experiences they normally would not receive in a nest, it is likely that they showed the earliest possible onset of these skills. A control subject, tested at a later age, showed that the mesh detours required no particular training, but that tasks including complete transparency likely require more specific experiences. Adult ravens without explicit training are highly proficient in inhibitory detour tasks, and, together with chimpanzees, they are the best performers of all tested species in the cylinder task. Our results suggest that their skills develop early in life, around their third month. Their developmental pattern of inhibitory skills for detours resembles that of children and rhesus macaques, albeit the pace of development is markedly faster in ravens. Investigating the development of cognition is crucial to understanding its foundations within and across species.

RevDate: 2018-01-03

Taufique SKT, Prabhat A, V Kumar (2018)

Constant light environment suppresses maturation and reduces complexity of new born neuron processes in the hippocampus and caudal nidopallium of a diurnal corvid: Implication for impairment of the learning and cognitive performance.

Neurobiology of learning and memory, 147:120-127.

Periodic day-night environment shapes the temporal pattern in the behaviour and physiology (e.g. 24-h activity-rest and sleep-wake cycles) and the advanced brain function, such as learning, memory and decision making. In a previous study, we showed the abolition of 24-h rhythm in the activity-rest pattern, and an attenuated cognitive performance in diurnal Indian house crows (Corvus splendens) under constant light (no-night; LL) environment. Present study extended this, and investigated LL-induced effects on the neurogenesis (birth, maturation and neurite complexity of new born neurons) in the hippocampus and caudal nidopallium, the brain regions directly associated with learning and cognition in birds. We performed immunohistochemistry of doublecortin (DCX; a neurogenesis marker) and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH, a key enzyme of the dopamine biosynthesis) in the brain section containing hippocampus or caudal nidopallium of Indian house crows exposed for 2 weeks to LL, with controls maintained under 12L:12D. As expected, crows showed arrhythmicity with a significantly reduced rest period in the 24-h activity-rest pattern, and a decreased cognitive performance when tested for the spatial and pattern association learning tasks under LL. Importantly, there was a significant decrease in DCX-immunoreactive (ir) cells and, as shown by Sholl analysis, in the complexity of DCX-ir neurites in both, the hippocampus and caudal nidopallium of crows under LL, as compared to those under 12L:12D. The anatomical proximity of DCX-ir neurons with TH-ir fibers suggested a functional association of the new born hippocampal and caudal nidopallial neurons with the learning, and perhaps cognition in Indian house crows. These results give insights into possible impact of the loss of night on brain health and functions in an emerging ecosystem in which other diurnal species including humans may be inadvertently exposed to an illuminated night, such as in an overly lighted metropolitan urban habitat.

RevDate: 2017-12-19

Sugasawa S, Klump BC, St Clair JJH, et al (2017)

Causes and Consequences of Tool Shape Variation in New Caledonian Crows.

Current biology : CB, 27(24):3885-3890.e4.

Hominins have been making tools for over three million years [1], yet the earliest known hooked tools appeared as recently as 90,000 years ago [2]. Hook innovation is likely to have boosted our ancestors' hunting and fishing efficiency [3], marking a major transition in human technological evolution. The New Caledonian crow is the only non-human animal known to craft hooks in the wild [4, 5]. Crows manufacture hooked stick tools in a multi-stage process, involving the detachment of a branch from suitable vegetation; "sculpting" of a terminal hook from the nodal joint; and often additional adjustments, such as length trimming, shaft bending, and bark stripping [4, 6, 7]. Although tools made by a given population share key design features [4, 6, 8], they vary appreciably in overall shape and hook dimensions. Using wild-caught, temporarily captive crows, we experimentally investigated causes and consequences of variation in hook-tool morphology. We found that bird age, manufacture method, and raw-material properties influenced tool morphology, and that hook geometry in turn affected crows' foraging efficiency. Specifically, hook depth varied with both detachment technique and plant rigidity, and deeper hooks enabled faster prey extraction in the provided tasks. Older crows manufactured tools of distinctive shape, with pronounced shaft curvature and hooks of intermediate depth. Future work should explore the interactive effects of extrinsic and intrinsic factors on tool production and deployment. Our study provides a quantitative assessment of the drivers and functional significance of tool shape variation in a non-human animal, affording valuable comparative insights into early hominin tool crafting [9].

RevDate: 2018-06-02

Elderbrock EK, Small TW, SJ Schoech (2018)

Influence of corticosterone treatment on nestling begging in Florida scrub-jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens).

General and comparative endocrinology, 259:213-222.

Altricial young are dependent on adults for protection and food, and they display nutritional need by begging to elicit feeding from parents. Begging at high levels can be energetically expensive and attract predators; thus, an individual must balance its nutritional needs with these potential costs. Further, because a parent is limited in the amount of food it can provide, begging can contribute to both parent-offspring conflict and sibling-sibling competition. Many extrinsic and intrinsic factors may contribute to begging behavior. One intrinsic factor of interest is corticosterone (CORT), a metabolic hormone hypothesized to play a role in regulating a nestling's begging behavior. We investigated the hypothesis that increased exposure to CORT influences nestling begging behavior in an altricial species, the Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens). We treated one nestling per treatment nest with a twice-daily dose of exogenous hormone via a CORT-injected waxworm, whereas a second individual received a vehicle-injected waxworm. We monitored individual nestling and adult behavior at all nests with the use of high-definition video cameras on several days during treatment. We found no difference in begging rate between CORT fed and vehicle fed nestlings within a treatment nest. Further, to determine whether CORT treatment had indirect effects on the entire brood, we monitored additional nests, in which nestlings were not manipulated. When treatment and controls were compared, overall begging rates of nestlings in treatment nests were greater than those in control nests. This result suggests that CORT treatment of an individual altered its behavior, as well as that of its siblings.

RevDate: 2018-02-04
CmpDate: 2018-01-26

Found R (2017)

Interactions between cleaner-birds and ungulates are personality dependent.

Biology letters, 13(11):.

While a growing body of literature explores the ecological implications of consistent individual variation in the behaviour of wildlife, few studies have looked at the reciprocal influences of personality within interspecific interactions, despite the potentially significant impacts on biodiversity. Here I used two species involved in cleaner-bird behaviour-black-billed magpies (Pica pica) and Rocky mountain elk (Cervus canadensis)-to show that the exhibition of mutualistic behaviour can depend on the personality of the individual involved. I recorded suites of correlated behaviours in both elk and magpies to derive personality gradients from 'shy' to 'bold', which I compared with observations of interspecific interactions. I measured each half of this mutualistic relationship separately. I found that bold elk were more likely to aggressively reject magpie landings, while shy elk allowed magpies to land and groom them. Contrastingly, I found it was bold magpies that were willing to risk landings, while shy magpies rarely attempted landings. These results show that the exhibition of interspecific behaviour is predicated on the personality of the individuals, and thus likely contributes to the selection and maintenance of personality variation within populations.

RevDate: 2018-07-10

Hartmann K, Veit L, A Nieder (2018)

Neurons in the crow nidopallium caudolaterale encode varying durations of visual working memory periods.

Experimental brain research, 236(1):215-226.

Adaptive sequential behaviors rely on the bridging and integration of temporally separate information for the realization of prospective goals. Corvids' remarkable behavioral flexibility is thought to depend on the workings of the nidopallium caudolaterale (NCL), a high-level avian associative forebrain area. We trained carrion crows to remember visual items for three alternating delay durations in a delayed match-to-sample task and recorded single-unit activity from the NCL. Sample-selective delay activity, a correlate of visual working memory, was maintained throughout different working memory durations. Delay responses remained selective for the same preferred sample item across blocks with different delay durations. However, selectivity strength decreased with increasing delay durations, mirroring worsened behavioral performance with longer memory delays. Behavioral relevance of delay activity was further evidenced by reduced encoding of the preferred sample item during error trials. In addition, NCL neurons adapted their time-dependent discharges to blocks of different memory durations, so that delay duration could be successfully classified based on population activity a few trials after the delay duration switched. Therefore, NCL neurons not only maintain information from individual trials, but also keep track of the duration for which this information is needed in the context of the task. These results strengthen the role of corvid NCL in maintaining working memory for flexible control of temporally extended goal-directed behavior.

RevDate: 2018-05-10
CmpDate: 2018-05-10

Herzberg D (2017)

Entitled to Addiction?: Pharmaceuticals, Race, and America's First Drug War.

Bulletin of the history of medicine, 91(3):586-623.

This article rethinks the formative decades of American drug wars through a social history of addiction to pharmaceutical narcotics, sedatives, and stimulants in the first half of the twentieth century. It argues, first, that addiction to pharmaceutical drugs is no recent aberration; it has historically been more extensive than "street" or illicit drug use. Second, it argues that access to psychoactive pharmaceuticals was a problematic social entitlement constructed as distinctively medical amid the racialized reforms of the Progressive Era. The resulting drug control regime provided inadequate consumer protection for some (through the FDA), and overly punitive policing for others (through the FBN). Instead of seeing these as two separate stories-one a liberal triumph and the other a repressive scourge-both should be understood as part of the broader establishment of a consumer market for drugs segregated by class and race like other consumer markets developed in the era of Progressivism and Jim Crow.

RevDate: 2018-04-20
CmpDate: 2018-04-20

Hill SD, Aryal A, Pawley MDM, et al (2018)

So much for the city: Urban-rural song variation in a widespread Asiatic songbird.

Integrative zoology, 13(2):194-205.

Song plays a fundamental role in intraspecific communication in songbirds. The temporal and structural components of songs can vary in different habitats. These include urban habitats where anthropogenic sounds and alteration of habitat structure can significantly affect songbird vocal behavior. Urban-rural variations in song complexity, song length and syllable rate are not fully understood. In this study, using the oriental magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis) as a model, we investigated urban-rural variation in song complexity, song length, syllable rate, syllable length and inter-syllable interval. Comparing urban and rural songs from 7 countries across its natural Asiatic range (Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand), we found no significant differences in oriental magpie-robin song complexity. However, we found significant differences in temporal song variables between urban and rural sites. Longer songs and inter-syllable intervals in addition to slower syllable rates within urban sites contributed the most to this variance. This indicates that the urban environment may have driven production of longer and slower songs to maximize efficient transmission of important song information in urban habitats.

RevDate: 2017-10-13

Lambert ML, Schiestl M, Schwing R, et al (2017)

Function and flexibility of object exploration in kea and New Caledonian crows.

Royal Society open science, 4(9):170652 pii:rsos170652.

A range of non-human animals frequently manipulate and explore objects in their environment, which may enable them to learn about physical properties and potentially form more abstract concepts of properties such as weight and rigidity. Whether animals can apply the information learned during their exploration to solve novel problems, however, and whether they actually change their exploratory behaviour to seek functional information about objects have not been fully explored. We allowed kea (Nestor notabilis) and New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) to explore sets of novel objects both before and after encountering a task in which some of the objects could function as tools. Following this, subjects were given test trials in which they could choose among the objects they had explored to solve a tool-use task. Several individuals from both species performed above chance on these test trials, and only did so after exploring the objects, compared with a control experiment with no prior exploration phase. These results suggest that selection of functional tools may be guided by information acquired during exploration. Neither kea nor crows changed the duration or quality of their exploration after learning that the objects had a functional relevance, suggesting that birds do not adjust their behaviour to explicitly seek this information.

RevDate: 2018-05-14
CmpDate: 2018-05-14

Ręk P, RD Magrath (2017)

Deceptive vocal duets and multimodal display in a songbird.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 284(1864):.

Many group-living animals cooperatively signal to defend resources, but what stops deceptive signalling to competitors about coalition strength? Cooperative-signalling species include mated pairs of birds that sing duets to defend their territory. Individuals of these species sometimes sing 'pseudo-duets' by mimicking their partner's contribution, but it is unknown if these songs are deceptive, or why duets are normally reliable. We studied pseudo-duets in Australian magpie-larks, Grallina cyanoleuca, and tested whether multimodal signalling constrains deception. Magpie-larks give antiphonal duets coordinated with a visual display, with each sex typically choosing a different song type within the duet. Individuals produced pseudo-duets almost exclusively during nesting when partners were apart, but the two song types were used in sequence rather than antiphonally. Strikingly, birds hid and gave no visual displays, implying deceptive suppression of information. Acoustic playbacks showed that pseudo-duets provoked the same response from residents as true duets, regardless of whether they were sequential or antiphonal, and stronger response than that to true duets consisting of a single song type. By contrast, experiments with robot models showed that songs accompanied by movements of two birds prompted stronger responses than songs accompanied by movements of one bird, irrespective of the number of song types or singers. We conclude that magpie-larks used deceptive pseudo-duets when partners were apart, and suppressed the visual display to maintain the subterfuge. We suggest that the visual component of many species' duets provides the most reliable information about the number of signallers and may have evolved to maintain honesty in duet communication.

RevDate: 2017-12-01
CmpDate: 2017-12-01

McPhatter LP, Su T, Williams G, et al (2017)

Host-Feeding Patterns of Culex stigmatosoma (Diptera: Culicidae) in Southern California.

Journal of medical entomology, 54(6):1750-1757.

Knowledge of the blood-feeding patterns exhibited by arthropod vectors is essential for understanding the complex dynamics of vector-borne disease transmission. Some species of mosquitoes belonging to the genus Culex have been implicated as having major roles in the transmission of arboviruses such as West Nile virus, Saint Louis encephalitis virus, and Western equine encephalitis virus. Although the host-feeding patterns for many of these Culex species are well studied, the host-feeding patterns of Culex stigmatosoma Dyar are relatively poorly studied, even though this species is suspected to be an important maintenance vector for West Nile virus and other arboviruses. In the current study, bloodmeals from 976 blood-engorged Cx. stigmatosoma, collected from 30 sites in southern California from 2009-2012, were processed for vertebrate host identification by nucleotide sequencing following polymerase chain reaction to amplify portions of the cytochrome oxidase I and cytochrome b genes of vertebrate animals. Vertebrate DNA was amplified, sequenced, and identified from a total of 647 Cx. stigmatosoma bloodmeals, revealing that 98.6% of bloodmeals were from birds, 1.2% from three mammal species, and a single bloodmeal was from a reptile species. In total, 40 different host species were identified. The greatest number of bloodmeals identified was from domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus L.) (38% of bloodmeals), house sparrow (Passer domesticus L.) (23%), house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus Müller) (17%), American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos L.) (4%), and mourning dove (Zenaida macroura L.) (3%). However, chicken bloodmeals were identified almost entirely from a single site where mosquito collection devices were placed in the near vicinity of confined domestic chickens. The strongly ornithophilic feeding behavior shown in this study for Cx. stigmatosoma supports the hypothesis that this mosquito species may be an important maintenance (or endemic) vector for arboviruses that circulate among susceptible birds.

RevDate: 2017-10-14

Stanton L, Davis E, Johnson S, et al (2017)

Adaptation of the Aesop's Fable paradigm for use with raccoons (Procyon lotor): considerations for future application in non-avian and non-primate species.

Animal cognition, 20(6):1147-1152.

To gain a better understanding of the evolution of animal cognition, it is necessary to test and compare the cognitive abilities of a broad array of taxa. Meaningful inter-species comparisons are best achieved by employing universal paradigms that standardize testing among species. Many cognitive paradigms, however, have been tested in only a few taxa, mostly birds and primates. One such example, known as the Aesop's Fable paradigm, is designed to assess causal understanding in animals using water displacement. To evaluate the universal effectiveness of the Aesop's Fable paradigm, we applied this paradigm to a previously untested taxon, the raccoon (Procyon lotor). We first trained captive raccoons to drop stones into a tube of water to retrieve a floating food reward. Next, we presented successful raccoons with objects that differed in the amount of water they displaced to determine whether raccoons could select the most functional option. Raccoons performed differently than corvids and human children did in previous studies of Aesop's Fable, and we found raccoons to be innovative in many aspects of this task. We suggest that raccoon performance in this paradigm reflected differences in tangential factors, such as behavior, morphology, and testing procedures, rather than cognitive deficiencies. We also present insight into previously undocumented challenges that should better inform future Aesop's Fable studies incorporating more diverse taxa.

RevDate: 2017-10-31
CmpDate: 2017-10-31

Lee SI, Lee H, Jablonski PG, et al (2017)

Microbial abundance on the eggs of a passerine bird and related fitness consequences between urban and rural habitats.

PloS one, 12(9):e0185411 pii:PONE-D-16-43861.

Urban environments present novel and challenging habitats to wildlife. In addition to well-known difference in abiotic factors between rural and urban environments, the biotic environment, including microbial fauna, may also differ significantly. In this study, we aimed to compare the change in microbial abundance on eggshells during incubation between urban and rural populations of a passerine bird, the Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica), and examine the consequences of any differences in microbial abundances in terms of hatching success and nestling survival. Using real-time PCR, we quantified the abundances of total bacteria, Escherichia coli/Shigella spp., surfactin-producing Bacillus spp. and Candida albicans on the eggshells of magpies. We found that urban magpie eggs harboured greater abundances of E. coli/Shigella spp. and C. albicans before incubation than rural magpie eggs. During incubation, there was an increase in the total bacterial load, but a decrease in C. albicans on urban eggs relative to rural eggs. Rural eggs showed a greater increase in E. coli/Shigella spp. relative to their urban counterpart. Hatching success of the brood was generally lower in urban than rural population. Nestling survival was differentially related with the eggshell microbial abundance between urban and rural populations, which was speculated to be the result of the difference in the strength of the interaction among the microbes. This is the first demonstration that avian clutches in urban and rural populations differ in eggshell microbial abundance, which can be further related to the difference in hatching success and nestling survival in these two types of environments. We suggest that future studies on the eggshell microbes should investigate the interaction among the microbes, because the incubation and/or environmental factors such as urbanization or climate condition can influence the dynamic interactions among the microbes on the eggshells which can further determine the breeding success of the parents.

RevDate: 2017-11-06
CmpDate: 2017-11-06

Canestrari D, Bolopo D, Turlings TCJ, et al (2017)

Formal comment to Soler et al.: Great spotted cuckoo nestlings have no antipredatory effect on magpie or carrion crow host nests in southern Spain.

PloS one, 12(9):e0184446 pii:PONE-D-17-07277.

RevDate: 2018-07-05
CmpDate: 2018-07-05

Despinoy F, Zemiti N, Forestier G, et al (2018)

Evaluation of contactless human-machine interface for robotic surgical training.

International journal of computer assisted radiology and surgery, 13(1):13-24.

PURPOSE: Teleoperated robotic systems are nowadays routinely used for specific interventions. Benefits of robotic training courses have already been acknowledged by the community since manipulation of such systems requires dedicated training. However, robotic surgical simulators remain expensive and require a dedicated human-machine interface.

METHODS: We present a low-cost contactless optical sensor, the Leap Motion, as a novel control device to manipulate the RAVEN-II robot. We compare peg manipulations during a training task with a contact-based device, the electro-mechanical Sigma.7. We perform two complementary analyses to quantitatively assess the performance of each control method: a metric-based comparison and a novel unsupervised spatiotemporal trajectory clustering.

RESULTS: We show that contactless control does not offer as good manipulability as the contact-based. Where part of the metric-based evaluation presents the mechanical control better than the contactless one, the unsupervised spatiotemporal trajectory clustering from the surgical tool motions highlights specific signature inferred by the human-machine interfaces.

CONCLUSIONS: Even if the current implementation of contactless control does not overtake manipulation with high-standard mechanical interface, we demonstrate that using the optical sensor complete control of the surgical instruments is feasible. The proposed method allows fine tracking of the trainee's hands in order to execute dexterous laparoscopic training gestures. This work is promising for development of future human-machine interfaces dedicated to robotic surgical training systems.

RevDate: 2018-03-20
CmpDate: 2018-03-05

Marley SA, Erbe C, CPS Kent (2017)

Underwater recordings of the whistles of bottlenose dolphins in Fremantle Inner Harbour, Western Australia.

Scientific data, 4:170126 pii:sdata2017126.

Dolphins use frequency-modulated whistles for a variety of social functions. Whistles vary in their characteristics according to context, such as activity state, group size, group composition, geographic location, and ambient noise levels. Therefore, comparison of whistle characteristics can be used to address numerous research questions regarding dolphin populations and behaviour. However, logistical and economic constraints on dolphin research have resulted in data collection biases, inconsistent analytical approaches, and knowledge gaps. This Data Descriptor presents an acoustic dataset of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) whistles recorded in the Fremantle Inner Harbour, Western Australia. Data were collected using an autonomous recorder and analysed using a range of acoustic measurements. Acoustic data review identified 336 whistles, which were subsequently measured for six key characteristics using Raven Pro software. Of these, 164 'high-quality' whistles were manually measured to provide an additional five acoustic characteristics. Digital files of individual whistles and corresponding measurements make this dataset available to researchers to address future questions regarding variations within and between dolphin communities.

RevDate: 2018-02-06
CmpDate: 2018-02-06

Laumer IB, Bugnyar T, Reber SA, et al (2017)

Can hook-bending be let off the hook? Bending/unbending of pliant tools by cockatoos.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 284(1862):.

The spontaneous crafting of hook-tools from bendable material to lift a basket out of a vertical tube in corvids has widely been used as one of the prime examples of animal tool innovation. However, it was recently suggested that the animals' solution was hardly innovative but strongly influenced by predispositions from habitual tool use and nest building. We tested Goffin's cockatoo, which is neither a specialized tool user nor a nest builder, on a similar task set-up. Three birds individually learned to bend hook tools from straight wire to retrieve food from vertical tubes and four subjects unbent wire to retrieve food from horizontal tubes. Pre-experience with ready-made hooks had some effect but was not necessary for success. Our results indicate that the ability to represent and manufacture tools according to a current need does not require genetically hardwired behavioural routines, but can indeed arise innovatively from domain general cognitive processing.

RevDate: 2017-09-22
CmpDate: 2017-09-22

Thiemann TC, Woodward DL, Fang Y, et al (2017)

Abundance and Bloodfeeding Patterns of Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) in an Oak Woodland on the Eastern Slope of the Northern Coast Range of California.

Journal of medical entomology, 54(5):1344-1353.

The abundance and bloodfeeding patterns of mosquitoes was studied from 2008 to 2010 at an 18 ha. oak woodland in Lake County, CA. Host-seeking females were collected weekly from sunset to sunrise by paired dry-ice-baited CDC style traps, whereas resting females were aspirated from paired walk-in red boxes. Sequences of the COI gene amplified from bloodmeals from engorged resting females were used to identify the bloodmeal hosts. Aedes sierrensis (Ludlow) and Aedes increpitus Dyar complex mosquitoes were univoltine, although the timing of emergence and abundance varied temporally and seemed weather dependent. Abundance of both Anopheles franciscanus McCracken and Anopheles freeborni Aitken peaked in mid to late summer. Females of both genera bloodfed primarily on mule deer and black-tailed jackrabbits, and few fed on either dogs or humans that were consistently present within the woodland. In contrast, multivoltine Culex tarsalis Coquillett and Culex stigmatosoma Dyar were abundant throughout summer, especially from July to September. Both Culex species bloodfed on a wide variety of avian hosts, with most bloodmeals originating from California scrub-jay, wild turkey, oak titmouse, and house finch. Culex tarsalis fed on proportionately more mammals as summer progressed, peaking at 33% in September.

RevDate: 2018-07-10
CmpDate: 2018-06-27

Schwing R, Weber S, T Bugnyar (2017)

Kea (Nestor notabilis) decide early when to wait in food exchange task.

Journal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983), 131(4):269-276.

The ability to forego an immediate reward in favor of a bigger or better one at a later point has been linked with advanced cognitive skills, such as impulse control and forward-planning, and can be assessed by the classic food exchange paradigm. While the ability to perform in such tasks has long been regarded as an exclusive trait of humans and some mammals, that is, primates and dogs, in recent years some bird species have been found to perform similarly as primates. Here we test 10 captive kea (Nestor notabilis), using a food exchange paradigm standardized in earlier experiments, but adding the use of a container to hold the initial item. The subjects reached waiting times of up to 160 s. They also showed significantly different results depending on the difference in the preference level for the presented food items, as well as clearly nonrandom waiting times, displaying forward-planning and economic evaluation of the situation at hand. As in most other species, results were markedly better when exchanging for quality as opposed to quantity. These results provide further evidence for temporal discounting in birds and fit in with the data gained on corvids and parrots in recent years. (PsycINFO Database Record

RevDate: 2018-03-08
CmpDate: 2018-03-08

Fausto F, Cuevas E, Valdivia A, et al (2017)

A global optimization algorithm inspired in the behavior of selfish herds.

Bio Systems, 160:39-55.

In this paper, a novel swarm optimization algorithm called the Selfish Herd Optimizer (SHO) is proposed for solving global optimization problems. SHO is based on the simulation of the widely observed selfish herd behavior manifested by individuals within a herd of animals subjected to some form of predation risk. In SHO, individuals emulate the predatory interactions between groups of prey and predators by two types of search agents: the members of a selfish herd (the prey) and a pack of hungry predators. Depending on their classification as either a prey or a predator, each individual is conducted by a set of unique evolutionary operators inspired by such prey-predator relationship. These unique traits allow SHO to improve the balance between exploration and exploitation without altering the population size. To illustrate the proficiency and robustness of the proposed method, it is compared to other well-known evolutionary optimization approaches such as Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO), Artificial Bee Colony (ABC), Firefly Algorithm (FA), Differential Evolution (DE), Genetic Algorithms (GA), Crow Search Algorithm (CSA), Dragonfly Algorithm (DA), Moth-flame Optimization Algorithm (MOA) and Sine Cosine Algorithm (SCA). The comparison examines several standard benchmark functions, commonly considered within the literature of evolutionary algorithms. The experimental results show the remarkable performance of our proposed approach against those of the other compared methods, and as such SHO is proven to be an excellent alternative to solve global optimization problems.

RevDate: 2018-07-01
CmpDate: 2017-12-01

Kelley LA, NS Clayton (2017)

California scrub-jays reduce visual cues available to potential pilferers by matching food colour to caching substrate.

Biology letters, 13(7):.

Some animals hide food to consume later; however, these caches are susceptible to theft by conspecifics and heterospecifics. Caching animals can use protective strategies to minimize sensory cues available to potential pilferers, such as caching in shaded areas and in quiet substrate. Background matching (where object patterning matches the visual background) is commonly seen in prey animals to reduce conspicuousness, and caching animals may also use this tactic to hide caches, for example, by hiding coloured food in a similar coloured substrate. We tested whether California scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica) camouflage their food in this way by offering them caching substrates that either matched or did not match the colour of food available for caching. We also determined whether this caching behaviour was sensitive to social context by allowing the birds to cache when a conspecific potential pilferer could be both heard and seen (acoustic and visual cues present), or unseen (acoustic cues only). When caching events could be both heard and seen by a potential pilferer, birds cached randomly in matching and non-matching substrates. However, they preferentially hid food in the substrate that matched the food colour when only acoustic cues were present. This is a novel cache protection strategy that also appears to be sensitive to social context. We conclude that studies of cache protection strategies should consider the perceptual capabilities of the cacher and potential pilferers.

RevDate: 2018-07-01
CmpDate: 2018-02-27

Serrano FJ, LM Chiappe (2017)

Aerodynamic modelling of a Cretaceous bird reveals thermal soaring capabilities during early avian evolution.

Journal of the Royal Society, Interface, 14(132):.

Several flight modes are thought to have evolved during the early evolution of birds. Here, we use a combination of computational modelling and morphofunctional analyses to infer the flight properties of the raven-sized, Early Cretaceous bird Sapeornis chaoyangensis-a likely candidate to have evolved soaring capabilities. Specifically, drawing information from (i) mechanical inferences of the deltopectoral crest of the humerus, (ii) wing shape (i.e. aspect ratio), (iii) estimations of power margin (i.e. difference between power required for flight and available power from muscles), (iv) gliding behaviour (i.e. forward speed and sinking speed), and (v) palaeobiological evidence, we conclude that S. chaoyangensis was a thermal soarer with an ecology similar to that of living South American screamers. Our results indicate that as early as 125 Ma, some birds evolved the morphological and aerodynamic requirements for soaring on continental thermals, a conclusion that highlights the degree of ecological, functional and behavioural diversity that resulted from the first major evolutionary radiation of birds.

RevDate: 2018-01-05
CmpDate: 2018-01-05

Kabadayi C, M Osvath (2017)

Ravens parallel great apes in flexible planning for tool-use and bartering.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 357(6347):202-204.

The ability to flexibly plan for events outside of the current sensory scope is at the core of being human and is crucial to our everyday lives and society. Studies on apes have shaped a belief that this ability evolved within the hominid lineage. Corvids, however, have shown evidence of planning their food hoarding, although this has been suggested to reflect a specific caching adaptation rather than domain-general planning. Here, we show that ravens plan for events unrelated to caching-tool-use and bartering-with delays of up to 17 hours, exert self-control, and consider temporal distance to future events. Their performance parallels that seen in apes and suggests that planning evolved independently in corvids, which opens new avenues for the study of cognitive evolution.

RevDate: 2018-07-10
CmpDate: 2017-12-18

Mitra S, Karmakar A, Mukherjee A, et al (2017)

The Role of Leaf Volatiles of Ludwigia octovalvis (Jacq.) Raven in the Attraction of Altica cyanea (Weber) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae).

Journal of chemical ecology, 43(7):679-692.

Larvae and adults of Altica cyanea (Weber) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) feed on the rice-field weed Ludwigia octovalvis (Jacq.) Raven (Onagraceae), commonly known as willow primrose, which is considered a biocontrol agent of the weed. Volatile organic compounds from undamaged plants, plants after 4, 12, and 36 h of continuous feeding by A. cyanea larvae or adult females and after mechanical damaging were identified by GC-MS and GC-FID analyses. Twenty nine compounds were identified from undamaged plants. 2Z-Penten-1-ol, geraniol, and 1-tridecanol were present in all plants damaged by larvae. In contrast, feeding by adults caused the release of 2Z-penten-1-ol only after 12 and 36 h; whereas geraniol and 1-tridecanol appeared only after 36 h. Farnesyl acetone was detected after 12 and 36 h of feeding by larvae and after 36 h of feeding by adults. Farnesene was detected after 36 h of feeding by larvae and adults. Linalool was unique after 36 h of feeding by larvae. In Y-shaped glass tube olfactometer bioassays, A. cyanea females were attracted to volatiles after 36 h of feeding by larvae or adults compared to volatiles released by undamaged plants. The insects were attracted to five synthetic compounds: 3-hexanol, α-pinene, linalool oxide, geraniol, and phytol. Synthetic blends were more attractive than individual compounds. Compared to undamaged plants, volatiles released by plants, damaged by conspecific individuals, were more attractive to A. cyanea females, due to elevated emissions of 3-hexanol, α-pinene, linalool oxide, geraniol, and phytol.

RevDate: 2018-03-20

Bugelli V, Papi L, Fornaro S, et al (2017)

Entomotoxicology in burnt bodies: a case of maternal filicide-suicide by fire.

International journal of legal medicine, 131(5):1299-1306.

One of the most common methods of maternal filicide is by fire. In this case study, a 40-year-old female and her children were found completely burned in a burnt out car. All bodies showed a degree of destruction by fire consisting to a level 3 of the Crow-Glassman Scale (CGS) and early stage of insect activity. Toxicological analyses were performed on soft tissues and body fluids still available. The results were positive for diazepam and its metabolites only for children with blood concentrations consistent with therapeutic doses of benzodiazepines. Home video surveillance cameras confirmed sedation prior to death recording the mother while administering some drops of sedative drugs in a soft drink to the children just a couple of hours before setting fire to the car. Based on autopsy findings, all victims were still alive at the time of fire. The cause of death was determined as carbon monoxide poisoning and fatal thermal injuries by fire. This case study has a special focus on the entomotoxicology and the potential role of insects in death investigations of burnt bodies, supposed to be an inadequate substratum for insect colonization. It demonstrates that in burnt bodies, arthropod colonization can be quite immediate after fire is extinguished. Toxicological analyses performed on larvae actively feeding on the children's bodies were positive for diazepam and its metabolites in small amount compared with blood concentrations, whereas the larvae collected from the mother's body were totally negative. These data, according to the autopsy findings and the toxicological results from the victim's blood and tissues, supported the suspect of a non-lethal sedation prior to death, which is a common behaviour in maternal filicide.

RevDate: 2018-03-20

West EH, MZ Peery (2017)

Behavioral mechanisms leading to improved fitness in a subsidized predator.

Oecologia, 184(4):787-798.

General mechanisms underlying the distribution and fitness of synanthropic predators in human-influenced landscapes remain unclear. Under the consumer resource-matching hypothesis, synanthropes are expected to distribute themselves among habitats according to resource availability, such that densities are greater in human-subsidized habitats, but mean individual fitness is equal among habitats because of negative density dependence. However, "under-matching" to human food resources can occur, because dominant individuals exclude subordinates from subsidized habitats and realize relatively high fitness. We integrated physiological, behavioral, and demographic information to test resource-matching hypotheses in Steller's jays (Cyanocitta stelleri), a synanthropic nest predator, to understand how behavior and social systems can influence how synanthropes respond to food subsidies. Jays consumed more human foods at subsidized (park campground) sites than jays at unsubsidized (interior forest) sites based on stable isotope analyses. Jays that occurred at higher densities were in better body condition (based on feather growth bars and lipid analyses), and had greater reproductive output at subsidized than unsubsidized sites. Jays with breeding territories in subsidized sites maintained relatively small home ranges that overlapped with multiple conspecifics, and exhibited a social system where dominant individuals typically won contests over food. Thus, jays appeared to be under-matched to prevalent resource subsidies despite high densities and behaviors expected to lead to resource matching. Our results also indicate that local resource subsidies within protected areas can result in source habitats for synanthropes, potentially impacting sensitive species over broader spatial scales.

RevDate: 2018-03-27
CmpDate: 2018-03-27

Fasfous AF, Al-Joudi HF, Puente AE, et al (2017)

Neuropsychological Measures in the Arab World: A Systematic Review.

Neuropsychology review, 27(2):158-173.

Although Arabic is one of the most widely used languages in the world, little is known on the availability of standardized neuropsychological tests in Arabic. We review the literature published before 2016, using the keywords Arab*, cogniti*, and neuropsycholo*, as well as keywords for each Arab country. PubMed, PsycINFO, Education Source, Academic Search Complete, Education Resources Information Center, Shamaa, and Arabpsynet databases were searched, in addition to a selected number of Arabic medical and educational journals. After excluding case reports, studies conducted on Arab groups residing outside the Arab world or Israel, and studies that employed intelligence scales or cognitive screens without standardization, 384 studies were eventually reviewed. Tests with most extensive use, adaptation, validation and norming were identified. The Raven Matrices, with its variants, was the most normed cognitive test for Arab individuals (normed in 16 countries). The rate of neuropsychology publications from the Arab countries combined, per year, was less than half of that of each American journal (top 10 journals pertaining to cognition). Nonetheless, the rate in Arab countries has increased after 2010. Publications were mostly from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but the ratio of test adaptation-to-publication was the largest in Jordan and Lebanon. Approximately half of these publications did not employ cognitive tests that were developed, translated, adapted, or standardized according to international guidelines of psychological measurement. We provide recommendations on improving clinical neuropsychology to better serve Arab patients.

RevDate: 2017-12-22
CmpDate: 2017-11-06

Gomo G, Mattisson J, Hagen BR, et al (2017)

Scavenging on a pulsed resource: quality matters for corvids but density for mammals.

BMC ecology, 17(1):22 pii:10.1186/s12898-017-0132-1.

BACKGROUND: Human food subsidies can provide predictable food sources in large quantities for wildlife species worldwide. In the boreal forest of Fennoscandia, gut piles from moose (Alces alces) harvest provide a potentially important food source for a range of opportunistically scavenging predators. Increased populations of predators can negatively affect threatened or important game species. As a response to this, restrictions on field dressing of moose are under consideration in parts of Norway. However, there is a lack of research to how this resource is utilized. In this study, we used camera-trap data from 50 gut piles during 1043 monitoring days. We estimated depletion of gut piles separately for parts with high and low energy content, and used these results to scale up gut pile density in the study area. We identified scavenger species and analyzed the influences of gut pile quality and density on scavenging behavior of mammals and corvids (family Corvidae).

RESULTS: Main scavengers were corvids and red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Parts with high energy content were rapidly consumed, mainly by corvids that were present at all gut piles shortly after the remains were left at the kill site. Corvid presence declined with days since harvest, reflecting reduction in gut pile quality over time independent of gut pile density. Mammals arrived 7-8 days later at the gut piles than corvids, and their presence depended only on gut pile density with a peak at intermediate densities. The decline at high gut pile densities suggest a saturation effect, which could explain accumulation of gut pile parts with low energy content.

CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that remains from moose harvest can potentially be an important food resource for scavengers, as it was utilized to a high degree by many species. This study gives novel insight into how energy content and density of resources affect scavenging patterns among functional groups of scavengers.

RevDate: 2018-04-26
CmpDate: 2018-02-14

O'Donnell LA, Axelson DA, Kowatch RA, et al (2017)

Enhancing quality of life among adolescents with bipolar disorder: A randomized trial of two psychosocial interventions.

Journal of affective disorders, 219:201-208.

BACKGROUND: Adolescents with bipolar disorder (BD) report lower quality of life (QoL) than adolescents with other psychiatric disorders. This study compared the efficacy of family-focused therapy for adolescents (FFT-A) plus pharmacotherapy to brief psychoeducation (enhanced care, or EC) plus pharmacotherapy on self-rated QoL in adolescents with BD over 2 years.

METHODS: Participants were 141 adolescents (mean age: 15.6±1.4yr) with BD I or II who had a mood episode in the previous 3 months. Adolescents and parents were randomly assigned to (1) FFT-A, given in 21 sessions in 9 months of psychoeducation, communication enhancement training, and problem-solving skills training, or (2) EC, given in 3 family psychoeducation sessions. Study psychiatrists provided patient participants with protocol-based pharmacotherapy for the duration of the study. QoL was assessed with The KINDLRQuestionnaire (Ravens-Sieberer and Bullinger, 1998) during active treatment (baseline to 9 months) and during a post-treatment follow-up (9-24 months).

RESULTS: The two treatment groups did not differ in overall QoL scores over 24 months. However, adolescents in FFT-A had greater improvements in quality of family relationships and physical well-being than participants in EC. For quality of friendships, the trajectory during active treatment favored EC, whereas the trajectory during post-treatment favored FFT-A.

LIMITATIONS: We were unable to standardize medication use or adherence over time. Quality of life was based on self-report rather than on observable functioning.

CONCLUSIONS: A short course of family psychoeducation and skills training may enhance relational functioning and health in adolescents with BD. The effects of different psychosocial interventions on peer relationships deserves further study.

RevDate: 2018-05-01
CmpDate: 2018-05-01

Veit L, Pidpruzhnykova G, A Nieder (2017)

Learning Recruits Neurons Representing Previously Established Associations in the Corvid Endbrain.

Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 29(10):1712-1724.

Crows quickly learn arbitrary associations. As a neuronal correlate of this behavior, single neurons in the corvid endbrain area nidopallium caudolaterale (NCL) change their response properties during association learning. In crows performing a delayed association task that required them to map both familiar and novel sample pictures to the same two choice pictures, NCL neurons established a common, prospective code for associations. Here, we report that neuronal tuning changes during learning were not distributed equally in the recorded population of NCL neurons. Instead, such learning-related changes relied almost exclusively on neurons which were already encoding familiar associations. Only in such neurons did behavioral improvements during learning of novel associations coincide with increasing selectivity over the learning process. The size and direction of selectivity for familiar and newly learned associations were highly correlated. These increases in selectivity for novel associations occurred only late in the delay period. Moreover, NCL neurons discriminated correct from erroneous trial outcome based on feedback signals at the end of the trial, particularly in newly learned associations. Our results indicate that task-relevant changes during association learning are not distributed within the population of corvid NCL neurons but rather are restricted to a specific group of association-selective neurons. Such association neurons in the multimodal cognitive integration area NCL likely play an important role during highly flexible behavior in corvids.

RevDate: 2018-02-07
CmpDate: 2018-02-07

Luef EM, Ter Maat A, S Pika (2017)

Vocal similarity in long-distance and short-distance vocalizations in raven pairs (Corvus corax) in captivity.

Behavioural processes, 142:1-7.

Vocal interactions in many birds are characterized by imitation or the matching of vocalizations whereby one individual makes its vocalizations more similar to those of a conspecific. This behaviour is aided by vocal learning, which allows birds to change the vocalizations already in their repertoires, or to add new ones. The majority of studies on vocal similarity have been focussing on the songs of birds rather than their calls, with evidence for vocal similarity in calls being rather scarce. Here, we investigated whether ravens make their calls acoustically similar to one another by analysing the extent to which short- and long-distance calls of their vocal repertoires exhibited vocal similarity. Our results showed that long-distance calls, but not short-distance calls, are highly similar between pair partners. This effect may be explained by the different functions underlying short- and long-distance communication in ravens, with vocal similarity possibly being scaffolded by specific social matrices such as pair-bonds and/or strong social relationships.

RevDate: 2017-09-06
CmpDate: 2017-09-06

Baragli P, Demuru E, Scopa C, et al (2017)

Are horses capable of mirror self-recognition? A pilot study.

PloS one, 12(5):e0176717 pii:PONE-D-16-42106.

Mirror Self-Recognition (MSR) unveils complex cognitive, social and emotional skills and it has been found only in humans and few other species, such as great apes, dolphins, elephants and magpies. In this pilot study, we tested if horses show the capacity of MSR. Four subjects living socially under naturalistic conditions were selected for the experiment. We adopted the classical mark test, which consists in placing a coloured mark on an out-of-view body part, visible only through mirror inspection. If the animal considers the image as its own, it will use its reflection to detect the mark and will try to explore it. We enhanced the classical paradigm by introducing a double-check control. Only in the presence of the reflecting surface, animals performed tactile and olfactory exploration of the mirror and looked behind it. These behaviors suggest that subjects were trying to associate multiple sensory cues (visual, tactile and olfactory) to the image in the mirror. The lack of correspondence between the collected stimuli in front of the mirror and the response to the colored mark lead us to affirm that horses are able to perceive that the reflected image is incongruent when compared with the memorized information of a real horse. However, without replication of data, the self-directed behavior towards the colored marks showed by our horses cannot be sufficient per se to affirm that horses are capable of self-recognition.

RevDate: 2017-12-14
CmpDate: 2017-12-14

Jaam M, Ibrahim MIM, Kheir N, et al (2017)

Factors associated with medication adherence among patients with diabetes in the Middle East and North Africa region: A systematic mixed studies review.

Diabetes research and clinical practice, 129:1-15.

Multiple systematic reviews were conducted investigating factors associated with medication adherence worldwide. However, investigations from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region were largely underrepresented in those reviews. Therefore, the objective of this systematic review is to identify the factors influencing medication adherence among patients with diabetes in the MENA region. A systematic literature search was conducted through Cochrane Library, EBSCO, EMBASE, Google Scholar, ISI Web of Science, PubMed, ScienceDirect, SCOPUS, and ProQuest. Studies were included if they determined factors associated with medication adherence among patients with diabetes within the MENA region. Quality was assessed using Crow Critical Appraisal Tool. Thirty primary studies from 10 MENA countries were included. The factors associated with medication adherence were categorized into demographics-related; disease- and medication-related; perception, attitude and psychological feelings-related; and societal-related factors. Positively associated factors included knowledge about the disease and medications, regular follow-up visits, and patients' positive beliefs about effectiveness and motivations about medications, while negatively associated factors included forgetfulness, side effects, and polypharmacy. Factors associated with medication adherence among patients with diabetes in the MENA region are highly diverse. The identified factors can serve as potential targets for culturally-relevant interventions to improve medication adherence and overall health outcomes.

RevDate: 2017-10-23
CmpDate: 2017-10-23

Zarrintab M, R Mirzaei (2017)

Stress induced by heavy metals on breeding of magpie (Pica pica) from central Iran.

Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 143:28-37.

The aim of this study was to address the impacts of some heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Zn, Ni and Cu) contamination on laying behavior, egg quality and breeding performance of Pica pica in north of Isfahan Province, Iran. During the breeding season of 2013, magpie's egg content and eggshell as well as nestling excrements and feathers were collected and total concentrations of heavy metals were measured by ICP-OES. Except for Zn in nestling feathers, the significantly higher concentrations of heavy metals were observed in nestling excrements than other samples. Also, comparison of heavy metals concentrations in egg content and eggshell showed that egg content had significantly higher concentrations of Zn and Pb, instead eggshell had significantly higher amount of Cu and Cd. Except for Cu, all heavy metals concentrations in eggshell had a negative relationship with morphological characters; and also concentration of Cu in egg content showed a significantly negative correlation with egg weight and volume. The most of heavy metals in nestling feathers and excrements had strongly positive correlations with each other. Also all heavy metals levels in eggshell and egg content had significantly positive correlations (except for Cu). Unhatched eggs had significantly lower weight but also greater levels of Zn, Cd, and Pb, than randomly collected eggs. No significant differences were observed for morphometric measurements of eggs between different sites, however, a decreased gradient was observed in egg volume toward the brick kiln site. Samples collected in brick kiln site accumulated higher concentrations of heavy metals than other sites. Although numbers of clutch size in brick kiln site were significantly higher than other sites, however, other breeding variable were lower than other sites. It can be suggested that ecosystem contamination may be caused to decrease the reproduction rate of Pica pica in brick kiln, probably by laying more poor quality eggs per clutch and nestling mortality.

RevDate: 2017-05-05
CmpDate: 2017-04-25

Soler M, de Neve L, Roldán M, et al (2017)

Great spotted cuckoo nestlings have no antipredatory effect on magpie or carrion crow host nests in southern Spain.

PloS one, 12(4):e0173080 pii:PONE-D-15-13368.

Host defences against cuckoo parasitism and cuckoo trickeries to overcome them are a classic example of antagonistic coevolution. Recently it has been reported that this relationship may turn to be mutualistic in the case of the carrion crow (Corvus corone) and its brood parasite, the great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius), given that experimentally and naturally parasitized nests were depredated at a lower rate than non-parasitized nests. This result was interpreted as a consequence of the antipredatory properties of a fetid cloacal secretion produced by cuckoo nestlings, which presumably deters predators from parasitized host nests. This potential defensive mechanism would therefore explain the detected higher fledgling success of parasitized nests during breeding seasons with high predation risk. Here, in a different study population, we explored the expected benefits in terms of reduced nest predation in naturally and experimentally parasitized nests of two different host species, carrion crows and magpies (Pica pica). During the incubation phase non-parasitized nests were depredated more frequently than parasitized nests. However, during the nestling phase, parasitized nests were not depredated at a lower rate than non-parasitized nests, neither in magpie nor in carrion crow nests, and experimental translocation of great spotted cuckoo hatchlings did not reveal causal effects between parasitism state and predation rate of host nests. Therefore, our results do not fit expectations and, thus, do not support the fascinating possibility that great spotted cuckoo nestlings could have an antipredatory effect for host nestlings, at least in our study area. We also discuss different possibilities that may conciliate these with previous results, but also several alternative explanations, including the lack of generalizability of the previously documented mutualistic association.

RevDate: 2018-02-13
CmpDate: 2018-02-13

Manrique HM, Molina AC, Posada S, et al (2017)

Vertical string-pulling in green jays (Cyanocorax yncas).

Behavioural processes, 140:74-80.

The cognition of green jays (Cyanocorax yncas), a non Corvus corvid species, was investigated by using the string-pulling paradigm. Five adult green jays performed a vertical string-pulling task in which they had to retrieve a worm attached to the end of a vertical hanging string while sitting on their perch. In the first experiment, three of the subjects managed to retrieve the worm by pulling on the string with their beaks and stepping on the resulting loop, and thereafter repeating this sequence until the worm was accessible. When subjects were given a choice between two strings in subsequent experiments 2-4, they chose at random between the string connected to the worm and the one connected to a slice of a wooden dowel. In experiment 5, subjects that had failed the previous discrimination series were able, nevertheless, to solve a more stringent vertical string array in which they had to pull up the whole length of the string without any visual access to the worm at the end. We discuss green jays' performance in comparison with other corvid species in which cognition has been more extensively investigated.

RevDate: 2018-07-16
CmpDate: 2018-07-16

Uomini N, G Hunt (2017)

A new tool-using bird to crow about.

Learning & behavior, 45(3):205-206.

The Hawaiian crow has been revealed as a skilled tool user, confirmed by testing the last members of this endangered species that survive in captivity. The finding suggests its behavior is tantalizingly similar to that of the famous tool-using New Caledonian crow and has implications for the evolution of tool use and intelligence in birds.

RevDate: 2018-03-20

Loretto MC, Schuster R, Itty C, et al (2017)

Fission-fusion dynamics over large distances in raven non-breeders.

Scientific reports, 7(1):380 pii:10.1038/s41598-017-00404-4.

The influence of fission-fusion dynamics, i.e., temporal variation in group size and composition, on social complexity has been studied in large-brained mammals that rely on social bonds. Little is known about birds, even though some species like ravens have recently received attention for their socio-cognitive skills and use of social bonds. While raven breeders defend territories year-round, non-breeders roam through large areas and form groups at food sources or night roosts. We here examined the fission-fusion patterns of non-breeding ravens over years, investigating whether birds meet repeatedly either at the same or at different locations. We combined four large datasets: presence-absence observations from two study sites (Austria, Italy) and GPS-tracking of ravens across two study areas (Austria, France). As expected, we found a highly dynamic system in which individuals with long phases of temporary settlement had a high probability of meeting others. Although GPS-tagged ravens spread out over thousands of square kilometres, we found repeated associations between almost half of the possible combinations at different locations. Such a system makes repeated interactions between individuals at different sites possible and likely. High fission-fusion dynamics may thus not hinder but shape the social complexity of ravens and, possibly, other long-term bonded birds.

RevDate: 2018-07-01
CmpDate: 2017-06-22

Langin KM, Sillett TS, Funk WC, et al (2017)

Partial support for the central-marginal hypothesis within a population: reduced genetic diversity but not increased differentiation at the range edge of an island endemic bird.

Heredity, 119(1):8-15.

Large-scale population comparisons have contributed to our understanding of the evolution of geographic range limits and species boundaries, as well as the conservation value of populations at range margins. The central-marginal hypothesis (CMH) predicts a decline in genetic diversity and an increase in genetic differentiation toward the periphery of species' ranges due to spatial variation in genetic drift and gene flow. Empirical studies on a diverse array of taxa have demonstrated support for the CMH. However, nearly all such studies come from widely distributed species, and have not considered if the same processes can be scaled down to single populations. Here, we test the CMH on a species composed of a single population: the Island Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma insularis), endemic to a 250 km2 island. We examined microsatellite data from a quarter of the total population and found that homozygosity increased toward the island's periphery. However, peripheral portions of the island did not exhibit higher genetic differentiation. Simulations revealed that highly localized dispersal and small total population size, but not spatial variation in population density, were critical for generating fine-scale variation in homozygosity. Collectively, these results demonstrate that microevolutionary processes driving spatial variation in genetic diversity among populations can also be important for generating spatial variation in genetic diversity within populations.

RevDate: 2017-06-05
CmpDate: 2017-06-05

Adler JL (2017)

"The Service I Rendered Was Just as True": African American Soldiers and Veterans as Activist Patients.

American journal of public health, 107(5):675-683.

In this article, I examine how African American soldiers and veterans experienced and shaped federally sponsored health care during and after World War I. Building on studies of the struggles of Black leaders and health care providers to win professional and public health advancement in the 1920s and 1930s, and of advocates to mobilize for health care rights in the mid-20th century, I focus primarily on the experiences and activism of patients in the interwar years. Private and government correspondence, congressional testimony, and reports from Black newspapers reveal that African American soldiers and veterans communicated directly with policymakers and bureaucrats regarding unequal treatment, assuming roles as "policy actors" who viewed health and medical care as "politics by other means." In the process, they drew attention to the paradoxes inherent in expanding government entitlements in the era of Jim Crow, and helped shape a veterans' health system that emerged in the 1920s and remained in place for the following century. They also laid the groundwork for the system's precedent-setting desegregation, referred to by advocates of the time as "a shining example to the rest of the country."

RevDate: 2018-05-06
CmpDate: 2017-05-15

Castro J, Molina-Morales M, Leverkus AB, et al (2017)

Effective nut dispersal by magpies (Pica pica L.) in a Mediterranean agroecosystem.

Oecologia, 184(1):183-192.

Scatter-hoarding animals such as corvids play a crucial role in the dispersal of nut-producing tree species. This interaction is well known for some corvids, but remains elusive for other species such as the magpie (Pica pica), an abundant corvid in agroecosystems and open landscapes of the Palearctic region. In addition, the establishment of the individual dispersed seeds-a prerequisite for determining seed-dispersal effectiveness-has never before been documented for the interaction between corvids and nut-producing trees. We analyzed walnut dispersal by magpies in an agroecosystem in southern Spain. We used several complementary approaches, including video recording nut removal from feeders, measuring dispersal distance using radio tracking (with radio transmitters placed inside nuts), and monitoring the fate of dispersed nuts to the time of seedling emergence. Magpies were shown to be highly active nut dispersers. The dispersal distance averaged 39.6 ± 4.5 m and ranged from 4.1 to 158.5 m. Some 90% of the removed walnuts were cached later, and most of these (98%) were buried in the soil or hidden under plant material. By the time of seedling emergence, ca. 33% of nuts remained at the caching location. Finally, 12% of the cached nuts germinated and 4% yielded an emerged seedling, facilitating the transition to the next regeneration stage. The results demonstrate for the first time that magpies can be an effective scatter-hoarding disperser of a nut-producing tree species, suggesting that this bird species may play a key role in the regeneration and expansion of broadleaf forests in Eurasia.

RevDate: 2018-03-27
CmpDate: 2018-03-27

Marhounová L, Frynta D, Fuchs R, et al (2017)

Object permanence in the food-storing coal tit (Periparus ater) and the non-storing great tit (Parus major): Is the mental representation required?.

Journal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983), 131(2):115-127.

Object permanence is a cognitive ability that enables animals to mentally represent the continuous existence of temporarily hidden objects. Generally, it develops gradually through six qualitative stages, the evolution of which may be connected with some specific ecological and behavioral factors. In birds, the advanced object permanence skills were reported in several storing species of the Corvidae family. In order to test the association between food-storing and achieved performance within the stages, we compared food-storing coal tits (Periparus ater) and nonstoring great tits (Parus major) using an adapted version of Uzgiris & Hunt's Scale 1 tasks. The coal tits significantly outperformed the great tits in searching for completely hidden objects. Most of the great tits could not solve the task when the object disappeared completely. However, the upper limit for both species is likely to be Stage 4. The coal tits could solve problems with simply hidden objects, but they used alternative strategies rather than mental representation when searching for completely hidden objects, especially if choosing between two locations. Our results also suggest that neophobia did not affect the overall performance in the object permanence tasks. (PsycINFO Database Record

RevDate: 2018-03-29
CmpDate: 2018-02-15

Neumann S, Salm S, Rietz C, et al (2017)

The German Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (FOCUS-G): Reliability and Validity of a Novel Assessment of Communicative Participation.

Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR, 60(3):675-681.

Purpose: Our purpose was to explore the validity and reliability of the German Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (FOCUS-G; Thomas-Stonell, Oddson, Robertson, & Rosenbaum, 2010, 2012), which is an authorized adaptation of the Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (Thomas-Stonell et al., 2010) tool, which measures communicative participation in preschool children.

Method: Parents of typically developing children (TDC) and of children with speech impairment (CSI) completed the FOCUS-G and the Questionnaire for Measuring Health-Related Quality of Life in Children (KiddyKINDL; Ravens-Sieberer & Bullinger, 2000). To determine test-retest reliability, the FOCUS-G was readministered to a subsample of parents 1 week later.

Results: The FOCUS-G had high values for internal consistency (α = .959, Ω = .941), test-retest reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = .974), and split-half reliability (r = .832). Total scores on the FOCUS-G and KiddyKINDL demonstrated significant associations. FOCUS-G total scores and subdomain scores for both samples showed significant correlations, indicating good construct validity. The discriminatory ability of the FOCUS-G was indicated by significantly higher mean scores for TDC (M = 6.03, SD = 0.65) than CSI (M = 5.47, SD = 1.02).

Conclusion: The overall good psychometric properties of this novel assessment of communicative participation support its use by speech-language pathologists for clinical and research purposes with German-speaking children.

RevDate: 2017-03-02

Munteanu AM, Stocker M, Stöwe M, et al (2017)

Behavioural and Hormonal Stress Responses to Social Separation in Ravens, Corvus corax.

Ethology : formerly Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie, 123(2):123-135.

Social life is profitable, but it facilitates conflicts over resources and creates interdependence between individuals. Separating highly social animals triggers intense reactions aimed at re-establishing lost connections. Less is known, however, about behavioural and physiological responses to separation in socially facultative species, where individuals temporarily form groups and may subsequently leave them. Non-breeding common ravens (Corvus corax) gather in large numbers at feeding and roosting sites, but otherwise spend time seemingly solitary or in small subgroups. We here studied how ravens cope with being socially isolated, and investigated the life characteristics that might explain potential individual differences. For this, we individually separated captive subadult ravens (n = 25) and housed them in physical and visual isolation from their group members across 4 d. During the separation period, we collected behavioural data and measured the amount of immunoreactive corticosterone metabolites from bird droppings to assess the ravens' physiological stress response. We found behavioural indicators of stress at the start of the separation, when ravens showed higher levels of tension than of comfort - a pattern that reversed at the end of the separation. Furthermore, we found that the upbringing of ravens affected their behaviour during separation. Hand-raised birds produced more vocalisations in the beginning of the separation, and were less active at the end, while the reverse pattern occurred with parent-raised ravens. Contrary to our predictions, we did not find differences in hormonal responses between the beginning and end of the separation period or any link between hormonal responses and behaviours. Ravens' behavioural responses to social separation stress seem to be dependent on their arousal states, although possible links with hormonal reactions remain unclear. Our results show that behavioural reactions are not always linked with hormonal responses to stress, and further emphasise the importance of investigating effects of early-life experiences.

RevDate: 2018-01-31
CmpDate: 2018-01-31

Morinha F, Dávila JA, Bastos E, et al (2017)

Extreme genetic structure in a social bird species despite high dispersal capacity.

Molecular ecology, 26(10):2812-2825.

Social barriers have been shown to reduce gene flow and contribute to genetic structure among populations in species with high cognitive capacity and complex societies, such as cetaceans, apes and humans. In birds, high dispersal capacity is thought to prevent population divergence unless major geographical or habitat barriers induce isolation patterns by dispersal, colonization or adaptation limitation. We report that Iberian populations of the red-billed chough, a social, gregarious corvid with high dispersal capacity, show a striking degree of genetic structure composed of at least 15 distinct genetic units. Monitoring of marked individuals over 30 years revealed that long-distance movements over hundreds of kilometres are common, yet recruitment into breeding populations is infrequent and highly philopatric. Genetic differentiation is weakly related to geographical distance, and habitat types used are overall qualitatively similar among regions and regularly shared by individuals of different populations, so that genetic structure is unlikely to be due solely to isolation by distance or isolation by adaptation. Moreover, most population nuclei showed relatively high levels of genetic diversity, suggesting a limited role for genetic drift in significantly differentiating populations. We propose that social mechanisms may underlie this unprecedented level of genetic structure in birds through a pattern of isolation by social barriers not yet described, which may have driven this remarkable population divergence in the absence of geographical and environmental barriers.

RevDate: 2017-05-10
CmpDate: 2017-05-10

Wright AA, Magnotti JF, Katz JS, et al (2017)

Corvids Outperform Pigeons and Primates in Learning a Basic Concept.

Psychological science, 28(4):437-444.

Corvids (birds of the family Corvidae) display intelligent behavior previously ascribed only to primates, but such feats are not directly comparable across species. To make direct species comparisons, we used a same/different task in the laboratory to assess abstract-concept learning in black-billed magpies (Pica hudsonia). Concept learning was tested with novel pictures after training. Concept learning improved with training-set size, and test accuracy eventually matched training accuracy-full concept learning-with a 128-picture set; this magpie performance was equivalent to that of Clark's nutcrackers (a species of corvid) and monkeys (rhesus, capuchin) and better than that of pigeons. Even with an initial 8-item picture set, both corvid species showed partial concept learning, outperforming both monkeys and pigeons. Similar corvid performance refutes the hypothesis that nutcrackers' prolific cache-location memory accounts for their superior concept learning, because magpies rely less on caching. That corvids with "primitive" neural architectures evolved to equal primates in full concept learning and even to outperform them on the initial 8-item picture test is a testament to the shared (convergent) survival importance of abstract-concept learning.

RevDate: 2017-11-30
CmpDate: 2017-09-28

Laiolo P (2017)

Phenotypic similarity in sympatric crow species: Evidence of social convergence?.

Evolution; international journal of organic evolution, 71(4):1051-1060.

Crows, rooks, and ravens (Corvus spp.) display marked morphological and voice similarities that have been hypothesized to stem from competitive interactions, as a case of nonaposematic mimicry. Here, I test predictions of the mimicry hypothesis at the macrovolutionary scale, examining whether species morphological and acoustic traits covary with those of coexisting congeners, and whether phenotypic similarity has facilitated the coexistence of related species after secondary contact. Body size and the temporal patterns of the commonest call display high levels of similarity among sympatric species, even after controlling for the effect of shared climate and habitat, and phylogenetic constraints in the production of variation. When sister species differed in these acoustic and morphological traits, their transition to secondary sympatry was delayed relative to those with more similar traits. No similarity was found in the sexual call of crows, suggesting that convergence occurs only when function does not favour maintenance of species-specific traits. Crow similarities in morphological and acoustic features may therefore be associated with coevolving interactions with congeners, in line with a broad array of studies documenting convergence among species that interact aggressively or forage communally.

RevDate: 2018-05-03
CmpDate: 2018-05-03

Washio Y, Frederick J, Archibald A, et al (2017)

Community-I nitiated Pilot Program "My Baby's Breath" to Reduce Prenatal Alcohol Use.

Delaware medical journal, 89(2):46-51.

Prenatal alcohol use puts mothers and their children at risk for complications during pregnancy, birth, and the neonatal periods. This paper describes a currently implemented community-based pilot program to reduce drinking among pregnant mothers. The program has worked in collaboration with case managers from Crow Wing County Social Services. Participants were required to provide daily breath samples with monetary incentives on alcohol-negative sample submissions. The program has treated four pregnant mothers so far, with an average of 94 percent compliance rate and no alcohol-positive breath samples. Future planned adjustments include using a remotely reloadlable debit card to reinforce daily sample submission, switching to completely random monitoring schedules to avoid falsenegative results, and expanding the program service in other counties. The community-based program using mobile technology has promise to increase opportunities to reinforce healthy lifestyle during pregnancy.

RevDate: 2017-12-27
CmpDate: 2017-12-27

Griesser M, Wagner GF, Drobniak SM, et al (2017)

Reproductive trade-offs in a long-lived bird species: condition-dependent reproductive allocation maintains female survival and offspring quality.

Journal of evolutionary biology, 30(4):782-795.

Life history theory is an essential framework to understand the evolution of reproductive allocation. It predicts that individuals of long-lived species favour their own survival over current reproduction, leading individuals to refrain from reproducing under harsh conditions. Here we test this prediction in a long-lived bird species, the Siberian jay Perisoreus infaustus. Long-term data revealed that females rarely refrain from breeding, but lay smaller clutches in unfavourable years. Neither offspring body size, female survival nor offspring survival until the next year was influenced by annual condition, habitat quality, clutch size, female age or female phenotype. Given that many nests failed due to nest predation, the variance in the number of fledglings was higher than the variance in the number of eggs and female survival. An experimental challenge with a novel pathogen before egg laying largely replicated these patterns in two consecutive years with contrasting conditions. Challenged females refrained from breeding only in the unfavourable year, but no downstream effects were found in either year. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that condition-dependent reproductive allocation may serve to maintain female survival and offspring quality, supporting patterns found in long-lived mammals. We discuss avenues to develop life history theory concerning strategies to offset reproductive costs.

RevDate: 2017-11-16
CmpDate: 2017-09-15

Mitra S, Sarkar N, A Barik (2017)

Long-chain alkanes and fatty acids from Ludwigia octovalvis weed leaf surface waxes as short-range attractant and ovipositional stimulant to Altica cyanea (Weber) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae).

Bulletin of entomological research, 107(3):391-400.

The importance of leaf surface wax compounds from the rice-field weed Ludwigia octovalvis (Jacq.) Raven (Onagraceae) was determined in the flea beetle Altica cyanea (Weber) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Extraction, thin layer chromatography and GC-MS and GC-FID analyses of surface waxes of young, mature and senescent leaves revealed 20, 19 and 19 n-alkanes between n-C15 and n-C35, respectively; whereas 14, 14 and 12 free fatty acids between C12:0 and C22:0 fatty acids were identified in young, mature and senescent leaves, respectively. Tricosane was predominant n-alkane in young and mature leaves, whilst eicosane predominated in senescent leaves. Heneicosanoic acid, palmitic acid and docosanoic acid were the most abundant free fatty acids in young, mature and senescent leaves, respectively. A. cyanea females showed attraction to 0.25 mature leaf equivalent surface waxes compared with young or senescent leaves in a short glass Y-tube olfactometer bioassay. The insects were attracted to a synthetic blend of 0.90, 1.86, 1.83, 1.95, 0.50 and 0.18 µg ml-1 petroleum ether of hexadecane, octadecane, eicosane, tricosane, palmitic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, respectively, comparable with the proportions as present in 0.25 mature leaf equivalent surface waxes. A. cyanea also laid eggs on a filter paper moistened with 0.25 mature leaf equivalent surface waxes or a synthetic blend of 0.90, 1.86, 1.83, 1.95, 0.50 and 0.18 µg ml-1 petroleum ether of hexadecane, octadecane, eicosane, tricosane, palmitic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, respectively. This finding could provide a basis for monitoring of the potential biocontrol agent in the field.

RevDate: 2018-01-03
CmpDate: 2017-11-28

Horn L, Scheer C, Bugnyar T, et al (2016)

Proactive prosociality in a cooperatively breeding corvid, the azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyana).

Biology letters, 12(10):.

One of the contemporary hypotheses concerning the evolution of human altruism is the cooperative breeding hypothesis (CBH) which has recently been tested in non-human primates. Using a similar paradigm, we investigated prosociality in a cooperatively breeding corvid, the azure-winged magpie. We found that the magpies delivered food to their group members at high rates, and unlike other corvids, they did so without any cues provided by others. In two control conditions, the magpies stopped participating over time, indicating that they learned to discriminate prosocial tests from controls. Azure-winged magpies are thus the first birds that experimentally show proactive prosociality. Our findings are in line with the CBH; however, additional corvid species need to be tested in this promising paradigm.

RevDate: 2018-05-25
CmpDate: 2018-05-25

Ostojić L, Legg EW, Brecht KF, et al (2017)

Current desires of conspecific observers affect cache-protection strategies in California scrub-jays and Eurasian jays.

Current biology : CB, 27(2):R51-R53.

Many corvid species accurately remember the locations where they have seen others cache food, allowing them to pilfer these caches efficiently once the cachers have left the scene [1]. To protect their caches, corvids employ a suite of different cache-protection strategies that limit the observers' visual or acoustic access to the cache site [2,3]. In cases where an observer's sensory access cannot be reduced it has been suggested that cachers might be able to minimise the risk of pilfering if they avoid caching food the observer is most motivated to pilfer [4]. In the wild, corvids have been reported to pilfer others' caches as soon as possible after the caching event [5], such that the cacher might benefit from adjusting its caching behaviour according to the observer's current desire. In the current study, observers pilfered according to their current desire: they preferentially pilfered food that they were not sated on. Cachers adjusted their caching behaviour accordingly: they protected their caches by selectively caching food that observers were not motivated to pilfer. The same cache-protection behaviour was found when cachers could not see on which food the observers were sated. Thus, the cachers' ability to respond to the observer's desire might have been driven by the observer's behaviour at the time of caching.

RevDate: 2018-04-12
CmpDate: 2018-04-12

Salter PS, Kelley NJ, Molina LE, et al (2017)

Out of sight, out of mind: racial retrieval cues increase the accessibility of social justice concepts.

Memory (Hove, England), 25(8):1139-1147.

Photographs provide critical retrieval cues for personal remembering, but few studies have considered this phenomenon at the collective level. In this research, we examined the psychological consequences of visual attention to the presence (or absence) of racially charged retrieval cues within American racial segregation photographs. We hypothesised that attention to racial retrieval cues embedded in historical photographs would increase social justice concept accessibility. In Study 1, we recorded gaze patterns with an eye-tracker among participants viewing images that contained racial retrieval cues or were digitally manipulated to remove them. In Study 2, we manipulated participants' gaze behaviour by either directing visual attention toward racial retrieval cues, away from racial retrieval cues, or directing attention within photographs where racial retrieval cues were missing. Across Studies 1 and 2, visual attention to racial retrieval cues in photographs documenting historical segregation predicted social justice concept accessibility.

RevDate: 2018-03-15
CmpDate: 2017-12-04

Griesser M, TN Suzuki (2017)

Naive Juveniles Are More Likely to Become Breeders after Witnessing Predator Mobbing.

The American naturalist, 189(1):58-66.

Responding appropriately during the first predatory attack in life is often critical for survival. In many social species, naive juveniles acquire this skill from conspecifics, but its fitness consequences remain virtually unknown. Here we experimentally demonstrate how naive juvenile Siberian jays (Perisoreus infaustus) derive a long-term fitness benefit from witnessing knowledgeable adults mobbing their principal predator, the goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). Siberian jays live in family groups of two to six individuals that also can include unrelated nonbreeders. Field observations showed that Siberian jays encounter predators only rarely, and, indeed, naive juveniles do not respond to predator models when on their own but do when observing other individuals mobbing them. Predator exposure experiments demonstrated that naive juveniles had a substantially higher first-winter survival after observing knowledgeable group members mobbing a goshawk model, increasing their likelihood of acquiring a breeding position later in life. Previous research showed that naive individuals may learn from others how to respond to predators, care for offspring, or choose mates, generally assuming that social learning has long-term fitness consequences without empirical evidence. Our results demonstrate a long-term fitness benefit of vertical social learning for naive individuals in the wild, emphasizing its evolutionary importance in animals, including humans.

RevDate: 2018-06-25
CmpDate: 2017-06-15

Krieger N, Jahn JL, PD Waterman (2017)

Jim Crow and estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer: US-born black and white non-Hispanic women, 1992-2012.

Cancer causes & control : CCC, 28(1):49-59.

PURPOSE: It is unknown whether Jim Crow-i.e., legal racial discrimination practiced by 21 US states and the District of Columbia and outlawed by the US Civil Rights Act in 1964-affects US cancer outcomes. We hypothesized that Jim Crow birthplace would be associated with higher risk of estrogen-receptor-negative (ER-) breast tumors among US black, but not white, women and also a higher black versus white risk for ER- tumors.

METHODS: We analyzed data from the SEER 13 registry group (excluding Alaska) for 47,157 US-born black non-Hispanic and 348,514 US-born white non-Hispanic women, aged 25-84 inclusive, diagnosed with primary invasive breast cancer between 1 January 1992 and 31 December 2012.

RESULTS: Jim Crow birthplace was associated with increased odds of ER- breast cancer only among the black, not white women, with the effect strongest for women born before 1965. Among black women, the odds ratio (OR) for an ER- tumor, comparing women born in a Jim Crow versus not Jim Crow state, equaled 1.09 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06, 1.13), on par with the OR comparing women in the worst versus best census tract socioeconomic quintiles (1.15; 95% CI 1.07, 1.23). The black versus white OR for ER- was higher among women born in Jim Crow versus non-Jim Crow states (1.41 [95% CI 1.13, 1.46] vs. 1.27 [95% CI 1.24, 1.31]).

CONCLUSIONS: The unique Jim Crow effect for US black women for breast cancer ER status underscores why analysis of racial/ethnic inequities must be historically contextualized.

RevDate: 2017-07-05
CmpDate: 2017-07-05

Neilands PD, Jelbert SA, Breen AJ, et al (2016)

How Insightful Is 'Insight'? New Caledonian Crows Do Not Attend to Object Weight during Spontaneous Stone Dropping.

PloS one, 11(12):e0167419 pii:PONE-D-16-24957.

It is highly difficult to pinpoint what is going through an animal's mind when it appears to solve a problem by 'insight'. Here, we searched for an information processing error during the emergence of seemingly insightful stone dropping in New Caledonian crows. We presented these birds with the platform apparatus, where a heavy object needs to be dropped down a tube and onto a platform in order to trigger the release of food. Our results show New Caledonian crows exhibit a weight inattention error: they do not attend to the weight of an object when innovating stone dropping. This suggests that these crows do not use an understanding of force when solving the platform task in a seemingly insightful manner. Our findings showcase the power of the signature-testing approach, where experiments search for information processing biases, errors and limits, in order to make strong inferences about the functioning of animal minds.

RevDate: 2017-07-13
CmpDate: 2017-07-11

Miller R, Jelbert SA, Taylor AH, et al (2016)

Performance in Object-Choice Aesop's Fable Tasks Are Influenced by Object Biases in New Caledonian Crows but not in Human Children.

PloS one, 11(12):e0168056 pii:PONE-D-16-36593.

The ability to reason about causality underlies key aspects of human cognition, but the extent to which non-humans understand causality is still largely unknown. The Aesop's Fable paradigm, where objects are inserted into water-filled tubes to obtain out-of-reach rewards, has been used to test casual reasoning in birds and children. However, success on these tasks may be influenced by other factors, specifically, object preferences present prior to testing or arising during pre-test stone-dropping training. Here, we assessed this 'object-bias' hypothesis by giving New Caledonian crows and 5-10 year old children two object-choice Aesop's Fable experiments: sinking vs. floating objects, and solid vs. hollow objects. Before each test, we assessed subjects' object preferences and/or trained them to prefer the alternative object. Both crows and children showed pre-test object preferences, suggesting that birds in previous Aesop's Fable studies may also have had initial preferences for objects that proved to be functional on test. After training to prefer the non-functional object, crows, but not children, performed more poorly on these two object-choice Aesop's Fable tasks than subjects in previous studies. Crows dropped the non-functional objects into the tube on their first trials, indicating that, unlike many children, they do not appear to have an a priori understanding of water displacement. Alternatively, issues with inhibition could explain their performance. The crows did, however, learn to solve the tasks over time. We tested crows further to determine whether their eventual success was based on learning about the functional properties of the objects, or associating dropping the functional object with reward. Crows inserted significantly more rewarded, non-functional objects than non-rewarded, functional objects. These findings suggest that the ability of New Caledonian crows to produce performances rivaling those of young children on object-choice Aesop's Fable tasks is partly due to pre-existing object preferences.

RevDate: 2017-12-28
CmpDate: 2017-07-27

Sándor AD, Kalmár Z, Matei I, et al (2017)

Urban Breeding Corvids as Disseminators of Ticks and Emerging Tick-Borne Pathogens.

Vector borne and zoonotic diseases (Larchmont, N.Y.), 17(2):152-154.

Crows (Corvidae) are common city dwellers worldwide and are increasingly important subjects of epidemiology studies. Although their importance as hosts and transmitters of a number of zoonotic parasites and pathogens is well known, there are no studies on their importance as tick hosts. After mosquitoes, ticks are the most important vectors of zoonotic pathogens, especially for those causing emerging zoonotic diseases. Pathogenic bacteria, especially Borrelia spp., Rickettsia spp., and Anaplasma spp., vectored by ticks, are the cause for most vector-borne diseases in Europe. Here we report on ticks and tick-borne pathogens harbored by urban breeding crows. A total of 36 birds (33.33%, n = 108) hosted ticks, with 91 individual ticks belonging to 6 species (Haemaphysalis concinna, Haemaphysalis parva, Haemaphysalis punctata, Hyalomma marginatum, Ixodes arboricola, and Ixodes ricinus). Rickettsia spp. DNA was found in 6.6% of ticks and 1.9% of bird tissues, whereas Anaplasma phagocytophilum was found in 5.9% of ticks and 0.9% of birds. Two rickettsial genospecies were located, Rickettsia helvetica and Rickettsia monacensis. This is the first study to determine such a diverse tick spectrum feeding on urban corvids, while highlighting their importance as tick hosts and raising concerns about their potential risk to human health.

RevDate: 2017-08-16

Miller R, Logan CJ, Lister K, et al (2016)

Eurasian jays do not copy the choices of conspecifics, but they do show evidence of stimulus enhancement.

PeerJ, 4:e2746 pii:2746.

Corvids (birds in the crow family) are hypothesised to have a general cognitive tool-kit because they show a wide range of transferrable skills across social, physical and temporal tasks, despite differences in socioecology. However, it is unknown whether relatively asocial corvids differ from social corvids in their use of social information in the context of copying the choices of others, because only one such test has been conducted in a relatively asocial corvid. We investigated whether relatively asocial Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius) use social information (i.e., information made available by others). Previous studies have indicated that jays attend to social context in their caching and mate provisioning behaviour; however, it is unknown whether jays copy the choices of others. We tested the jays in two different tasks varying in difficulty, where social corvid species have demonstrated social information use in both tasks. Firstly, an object-dropping task was conducted requiring objects to be dropped down a tube to release a food reward from a collapsible platform, which corvids can learn through explicit training. Only one rook and one New Caledonian crow have learned the task using social information from a demonstrator. Secondly, we tested the birds on a simple colour discrimination task, which should be easy to solve, because it has been shown that corvids can make colour discriminations. Using the same colour discrimination task in a previous study, all common ravens and carrion crows copied the demonstrator. After observing a conspecific demonstrator, none of the jays solved the object-dropping task, though all jays were subsequently able to learn to solve the task in a non-social situation through explicit training, and jays chose the demonstrated colour at chance levels. Our results suggest that social and relatively asocial corvids differ in social information use, indicating that relatively asocial species may have secondarily lost this ability due to lack of selection pressure from an asocial environment.

RevDate: 2018-03-20

Greggor AL, Jolles JW, Thornton A, et al (2016)

Seasonal changes in neophobia and its consistency in rooks: the effect of novelty type and dominance position.

Animal behaviour, 121:11-20.

Neophobia, or the fear of novelty, may offer benefits to animals by limiting their exposure to unknown danger, but can also impose costs by preventing the exploration of potential resources. The costs and benefits of neophobia may vary throughout the year if predation pressure, resource distribution or conspecific competition changes seasonally. Despite such variation, neophobia levels are often assumed to be temporally and individually stable. Whether or not neophobia expression changes seasonally and fluctuates equally for all individuals is crucial to understanding the drivers, consequences and plasticity of novelty avoidance. We investigated seasonal differences and individual consistency in the motivation and novelty responses of a captive group of rooks, Corvus frugilegus, a seasonally breeding, colonial species of corvid that is known for being neophobic. We tested the group around novel objects and novel people to determine whether responses generalized across novelty types, and considered whether differences in dominance could influence the social risk of approaching unknown stimuli. We found that the group's level of object neophobia was stable year-round, but individuals were not consistent between seasons, despite being consistent within seasons. In contrast, the group's avoidance of novel people decreased during the breeding season, and individuals were consistent year-round. Additionally, although subordinate birds were more likely to challenge dominants during the breeding season, this social risk taking did not translate to greater novelty approach. Since seasonal variation and individual consistency varied differently towards each novelty type, responses towards novel objects and people seem to be governed by different mechanisms. Such a degree of fluctuation has consequences for other individually consistent behaviours often measured within the nonhuman personality literature.

RevDate: 2017-11-16
CmpDate: 2017-06-15

Marquis RJ, Salazar D, Baer C, et al (2016)

Ode to Ehrlich and Raven or how herbivorous insects might drive plant speciation.

Ecology, 97(11):2939-2951.

Fifty years ago, Ehrlich and Raven proposed that insect herbivores have driven much of plant speciation, particularly at tropical latitudes. There have been no explicit tests of their hypotheses. Indeed there were no proposed mechanisms either at the time or since by which herbivores might generate new plant species. Here we outline two main classes of mechanisms, prezygotic and postzygotic, with a number of scenarios in each by which herbivore-driven changes in host plant secondary chemistry might lead to new plant lineage production. The former apply mainly to a sympatric model of speciation while the latter apply to a parapatric or allopatric model. Our review suggests that the steps of each mechanism are known to occur individually in many different systems, but no scenario has been thoroughly investigated in any one system. Nevertheless, studies of Dalechampia and its herbivores and pollinators, and patterns of defense tradeoffs in trees on different soil types in the Peruvian Amazon provide evidence consistent with the original hypotheses of Ehrlich and Raven. For herbivores to drive sympatric speciation, our findings suggest that interactions with both their herbivores and their pollinators should be considered. In contrast, herbivores may drive speciation allopatrically without any influence by pollinators. Finally, there is evidence that these mechanisms are more likely to occur at low latitudes and thus more likely to produce new species in the tropics. The mechanisms we outline provide a predictive framework for further study of the general role that herbivores play in diversification of their host plants.


RJR Experience and Expertise


Robbins holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in the life sciences. He served as a tenured faculty member in the Zoology and Biological Science departments at Michigan State University. He is currently exploring the intersection between genomics, microbial ecology, and biodiversity — an area that promises to transform our understanding of the biosphere.


Robbins has extensive experience in college-level education: At MSU he taught introductory biology, genetics, and population genetics. At JHU, he was an instructor for a special course on biological database design. At FHCRC, he team-taught a graduate-level course on the history of genetics. At Bellevue College he taught medical informatics.


Robbins has been involved in science administration at both the federal and the institutional levels. At NSF he was a program officer for database activities in the life sciences, at DOE he was a program officer for information infrastructure in the human genome project. At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he served as a vice president for fifteen years.


Robbins has been involved with information technology since writing his first Fortran program as a college student. At NSF he was the first program officer for database activities in the life sciences. At JHU he held an appointment in the CS department and served as director of the informatics core for the Genome Data Base. At the FHCRC he was VP for Information Technology.


While still at Michigan State, Robbins started his first publishing venture, founding a small company that addressed the short-run publishing needs of instructors in very large undergraduate classes. For more than 20 years, Robbins has been operating The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, a web site dedicated to the digital publishing of critical works in science, especially classical genetics.


Robbins is well-known for his speaking abilities and is often called upon to provide keynote or plenary addresses at international meetings. For example, in July, 2012, he gave a well-received keynote address at the Global Biodiversity Informatics Congress, sponsored by GBIF and held in Copenhagen. The slides from that talk can be seen HERE.


Robbins is a skilled meeting facilitator. He prefers a participatory approach, with part of the meeting involving dynamic breakout groups, created by the participants in real time: (1) individuals propose breakout groups; (2) everyone signs up for one (or more) groups; (3) the groups with the most interested parties then meet, with reports from each group presented and discussed in a subsequent plenary session.


Robbins has been engaged with photography and design since the 1960s, when he worked for a professional photography laboratory. He now prefers digital photography and tools for their precision and reproducibility. He designed his first web site more than 20 years ago and he personally designed and implemented this web site. He engages in graphic design as a hobby.

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This is a must read book for anyone with an interest in invasion biology. The full title of the book lays out the author's premise — The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation. Not only is species movement not bad for ecosystems, it is the way that ecosystems respond to perturbation — it is the way ecosystems heal. Even if you are one of those who is absolutely convinced that invasive species are actually "a blight, pollution, an epidemic, or a cancer on nature", you should read this book to clarify your own thinking. True scientific understanding never comes from just interacting with those with whom you already agree. R. Robbins

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Collection of publications by R J Robbins

Reprints and preprints of publications, slide presentations, instructional materials, and data compilations written or prepared by Robert Robbins. Most papers deal with computational biology, genome informatics, using information technology to support biomedical research, and related matters.

Research Gate page for R J Robbins

ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. According to a study by Nature and an article in Times Higher Education , it is the largest academic social network in terms of active users.

Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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