Breeding Pairs (breeding + pair)

Distribution by Scientific Domains
Distribution within Life Sciences

Selected Abstracts

Enhanced reproduction in mallards fed a low level of methylmercury: An apparent case of hormesis

Gary H. Heinz
Abstract Breeding pairs of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) were fed a control diet or a diet containing 0.5 g/g mercury (Hg) in the form of methylmercury chloride. There were no effects of Hg on adult weights and no overt signs of Hg poisoning in adults. The Hg-containing diet had no effect on fertility of eggs, but hatching success of eggs was significantly higher for females fed 0.5 g/g Hg (71.8%) than for controls (57.5%). Survival of ducklings through 6 d of age was the same (97.8%) for controls and mallards fed 0.5 g/g mercury. However, the mean number of ducklings produced per female was significantly higher for the pairs fed 0.5 g/g Hg (21.4) than for controls (16.8). Although mercury in the parents' diet had no effect on mean duckling weights at hatching, ducklings from parents fed 0.5 g/g Hg weighed significantly more (mean,=,87.2 g) at 6 d of age than did control ducklings (81.0 g). The mean concentration of Hg in eggs laid by parents fed 0.5 g/g mercury was 0.81 g/g on a wet-weight basis. At this time, one cannot rule out the possibility that low concentrations of Hg in eggs may be beneficial, and this possibility should be considered when setting regulatory thresholds for methylmercury. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:650,653. 2009 SETAC [source]

Vitamin A nutrition of growing cockatiel chicks (Nymphicus hollandicus)

E. A. Koutsos
Summary The experiments examined the physiological response of growing cockatiel chicks to varying levels of dietary vitamin A (VA) or , -carotene and the rate of liver VA uptake. Adult cockatiels breeding pairs (n = 10 pairs) were fed a VA-deficient diet for approximately 90 days prior to onset of egg laying. Breeding pairs were then allowed to feed their chicks diets containing either 0 IU VA/kg, 4000 IU VA/kg, or 2.4 mg , -carotene/kg. After 5 weeks, chicks fed 0 IU VA developed poor feathering, facial dermatitis and reduced body weight (p < 0.05). Liver VA was higher in chicks fed 4000 IU VA or 2.4 mg , -carotene vs. those fed 0 IU VA (p < 0.05). Duodenal , -actin and 15,15,-dioxygenase mRNA expression was similar to that of growing chickens, and greatest for cockatiel chicks fed 0 IU VA (p < 0.01). Chicks fed 0 IU VA had keratinization of the bursa and oral mucosa, and reduced bursa development and lymphocyte density (p < 0.05). Finally, when chicks fed 0 IU VA were orally gavaged with 20 IU VA/g body weight, maximal liver retinol uptake occurred between 0 and 24 h and reached a plateau at 36 h. These data demonstrate that VA deficiency can be prevented with 4000 IU VA/kg diet or 2.4 mg , -carotene/kg diet, although , -carotene conversion to VA may be lower in cockatiels than chickens. [source]

Are House Wren Troglodytes aedon eggs unusually strong?

IBIS, Issue 2 2002
Test of the predicted effect of intraspecific egg destruction
As a result of opposing selective forces, the external strength of avian eggs should be near some size-specific optimum. However, in certain situations there should be selection on females to lay unusually strong eggs. According to one hypothesis, intraspecific egg destruction should favour increased egg strength as a means of defence against conspecific intruders. This hypothesis predicts that House Wrens Troglodytes aedon, a species well known for its tendency to destroy conspecific clutches, should be under selection for unusually strong eggs. However, the intensity of selection for strong eggs should also be modified by efficacy of nest defence against conspecific intruders in a given species (i.e. efficient nest defence by the breeding pair should weaken selection for unusually strong eggs). The goals of our study were: (1) to establish whether House Wren eggs are stronger than expected for their size; (2) to determine which structural mechanisms are responsible for their unusual strength; and (3) to test a hypothesis that, between wren species, the efficacy of nest defence and the intensity of egg-destroying behaviour affect the intensity of selection for unusually strong eggs. Our results demonstrated that: (1) House Wren eggs are 1.9 times stronger than expected for their size; (2) their unusual strength is achieved mostly by their unusually thick shells; and (3) eggs of the House Wren (extensive paternal nest defence; male egg-destroying behaviour suppressed during incubation) are significantly weaker structurally than eggs of the Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris (reduced paternal nest defence; male egg-destroying behaviour present throughout incubation). These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the intraspecific egg-destroying behaviour and the efficacy of nest defence by the breeding adults have played a role in the evolution of strength of House Wren eggs. [source]

Notes on the development and behaviour of two Binturong Arctictus binturong litters born at Taronga Zoo, Sydney

Binturongs Arctictus binturong have been maintained at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia, since 1958 and the species bred there for the first time in 1962. In 2005, an unrelated pair were acquired from Singapore Zoo with the intention of establishing a breeding pair. A new purpose-built facility was constructed with suitable space and climbing opportunities. The Binturong pair underwent an introduction programme and they first mated 4 weeks after the initial introduction. A birth plan was formulated, which included the installation of surveillance cameras and not separating the , from the ,. In 2007, two litters of cubs [0.1 and 2.1 (,.,)] were born and developmental data were collected. The data were reviewed and, based on four shared categories, were evaluated and discussed. [source]

Density effects on life-history traits in a wild population of the great tit Parus major: analyses of long-term data with GIS techniques

Summary 1Population density often has strong effects on the population dynamics and reproductive processes of territorial animals. However, most estimates of density-dependent effects use the number of breeding pairs per unit area in a given season and look for correlations across seasons, a technique that assigns the same density score to each breeding pair, irrespective of local spatial variation. 2In this study, we employed GIS techniques to estimate individual breeding densities for great tits breeding in Wytham Woods UK, between 1965 and 1996. We then used linear mixed modelling to analyse the effect of density on reproductive processes. 3The areas of Thiessen polygons formed around occupied nestboxes were used to approximate territory size (necessarily inverse of breeding density). There were significant, independent and positive relationships between clutch size, fledging mass and the number of offspring recruited to the population, and territory size (all P < 0001), but no effect of territory size on lay-date or egg mass. 4Thiessen polygons are contiguous and cover all of the available area. Therefore, at low nest densities territory polygons were excessively oversized. Using a novel procedure to address this limitation, territory sizes were systematically capped through a range of maxima, with the greatest effect in the models when territories were capped at 09,23 ha. This figure approximates to the maximum effective territory size in our population and is in close agreement with several field-based studies. This capping refinement also revealed a significant negative relationship between lay-date and territory size capped at 09 ha (P < 0001). 5These density-dependent effects were also detected when analyses were restricted to changes within individual females, suggesting that density effects do not merely result from either increased proportions of low-quality individuals, or increased occupation of poor sites, when population density is high. 6Overall, these results suggest that, in the current population, great tits with territories smaller than c. 2 ha independently lay smaller and later clutches, have lighter fledglings, and recruit fewer offspring to the breeding population. These analyses thus suggest a pervasive and causal role of local population density in explaining individual reproductive processes. [source]

Reproduction and Resistance to Stress: When and How

J. C. Wingfield
Abstract Environmental and social stresses have deleterious effects on reproductive function in vertebrates. Global climate change, human disturbance and endocrine disruption from pollutants are increasingly likely to pose additional stresses that could have a major impact on human society. Nonetheless, some populations of vertebrates (from fish to mammals) are able to temporarily resist environmental and social stresses, and breed successfully. A classical trade-off of reproductive success for potential survival is involved. We define five examples. (i) Aged individuals with minimal future reproductive success that should attempt to breed despite potential acute stressors. (ii) Seasonal breeders when time for actual breeding is so short that acute stress should be resisted in favour of reproductive success. (iii) If both members of a breeding pair provide parental care, then loss of a mate should be compensated for by the remaining individual. (iv) Semelparous species in which there is only one breeding period followed by programmed death. (v) Species where, because of the transience of dominance status in a social group, individuals may only have a short window of opportunity for mating. We suggest four mechanisms underlying resistance of the gonadal axis to stress. (i) Blockade at the central nervous system level, i.e. an individual no longer perceives the perturbation as stressful. (ii) Blockade at the level of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (i.e. failure to increase secretion of glucocorticosteroids). (iii) Blockade at the level of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonad axis (i.e. resistance of the reproductive system to the actions of glucocorticosteroids). (iv) Compensatory stimulation of the gonadal axis to counteract inhibitory glucocorticosteroid actions. Although these mechanisms are likely genetically determined, their expression may depend upon a complex interaction with environmental factors. Future research will provide valuable information on the biology of stress and how organisms cope. Such mechanisms would be particularly insightful as the spectre of global change continues to unfold. [source]

Mating system, philopatry and patterns of kinship in the cooperatively breeding subdesert mesite Monias benschi

Abstract In the first molecular study of a member of the threatened avian family, Mesitornithidae, we used nine polymorphic microsatellite loci to elucidate parentage, patterns of within-group kinship and occurrence of extra-group paternity in the subdesert mesite Monias benschi, of southwest Madagascar. We found this cooperatively breeding species to have a very fluid mating system. There was evidence of genetic monogamy and polygynandry: of the nine groups with multiple offspring, six contained one breeding pair with unrelated helpers and three contained multiple male and female breeders with related helpers. Although patterns of within-group kinship varied, there was a strong positive relationship between group size and relatedness, suggesting that groups form by natal philopatry. There was also a strong positive correlation between within-sex and between-sex relatedness, indicating that unlike most cooperatively breeding birds, philopatry involved both sexes. In contrast to predictions of kin selection and reproductive skew models, all monogamous groups contained unrelated individuals, while two of the three polygynandrous groups were families. Moreover, although between-group variation in seasonal reproductive success was related to within-group female relatedness, relatedness among males and between the sexes had no bearing on a group's reproductive output. While kin selection may underlie helping behaviour in females, factors such as direct long-term fitness benefits of group living probably determine helping in males. Of the 14 offspring produced by fully sampled groups, at least two were sired by males from neighbouring groups: one by a breeding male and one by a nonbreeding male, suggesting that males may augment their reproductive success through extra-group paternity. [source]

Population genetics of the black ant Formica lemani (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Colony kin structure and spatial population structure were studied in multiple populations of the ant Formica lemani, using allozymes and DNA microsatellites. Average genetic relatedness between nestmate workers varied little between populations (r = 0.51,0.76), indicating that the average colony kin structure was relatively simple. Worker genotypes could not be explained with a single breeding pair in all nests, however, and the distribution of relatedness estimates across nests was bimodal, suggesting that single- and multi-queen colonies co-occur. We studied spatial population structure in a successional boreal forest system, which is a mixture of different aged habitats. Newly clear-cut open habitat patches are quickly colonized by F. lemani, where it is able to persist for a limited number of generations. Newly-founded populations showed signs of a founder effect and spatial substructuring, whereas older populations were more homogenous. This suggests that new populations are founded by a limited number of colonizers arriving from more than one source. Genetic differentiation among local populations was minor, indicating strong migration between them. There were, however, indications of both isolation by distance and populations becoming more isolated as habitat patches grew older. 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 97, 247,258. [source]

Use of paired fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) reproductive test.

Part 1: Assessing biological effects of final bleached kraft pulp mill effluent using a mobile bioassay trailer system
Abstract Reproductive effects have been recorded in wild fish in waters receiving pulp mill effluent (PME) since the mid to late 1980s. Laboratory assays with fathead minnow (FHM; Pimephales promelas) have been developed to better understand fish responses to PME. However, observations from laboratory studies have been variable, making it difficult to establish cause/effect relationships. A lack of environmental relevance in these laboratory studies may have contributed to the variability observed. The objectives of the present study were, first, to determine the effects of bleached kraft PME (BKME) on FHM under environmentally realistic conditions (i.e., ambient water and effluent quality) and, second, to determine the suitability of pair-breeding FHM to better link BKME-induced changes in indicators at the biochemical, individual, and population levels. A mobile bioassay trailer was situated on-site at a bleached kraft mill for 60 d, allowing supply of both ambient water (Lake Superior, Canada) and final BKME. The reproductive output of FHM was initially assessed for 21 d to obtain baseline data pre-exposure. At the end of the pre-exposure period, selected breeding pairs were exposed to final BKME (100% v/v and 1% v/v) for 21 d. Results demonstrated a stimulatory response pattern at 1% BKME (e.g., increased egg production) compared to control. In the 100% treatment, spawning events were reduced and fewer eggs were produced during the first two weeks of exposure. Exposure to 100% (v/v) BKME also resulted in ovipositor development in males and development of male secondary sex characteristics in females. Obtaining pre-exposure data and use of pair-breeding FHM in this assay gave a sensitive indication of effluent effects and allowed accurate comparisons of endpoints to be made. [source]

Population trends of Rooks Corvus frugilegus in Spain and the importance of refuse tips

IBIS, Issue 1 2008
Anthropogenic food from refuse tips can affect population dynamics in birds, especially gulls, but the evidence is mostly circumstantial. We combine analyses of long-term population data and natural experiments to show a positive effect of refuse tips on the growth of the Spanish breeding population of Rooks Corvus frugilegus. In this isolated population of around 2000 breeding pairs, monitored since 1976, birds in colonies less than 10 km from tips fed largely on refuse, particularly during periods of lowest natural food availability. Three lines of evidence support the hypothesis that the supply of refuse influenced breeding numbers, suggesting that this population is limited by food: 1) between 1976 and 2003, the two population nuclei that had access to tips increased 2.1 and 3.7 times more than that without a tip nearby; 2) annual colony growth between 1996 and 2003 was strongly correlated with the availability of tips when other potentially important variables were taken into account; 3) the number of breeding pairs in refuse-foraging colonies declined rapidly after the closure of the local tip and recovered only when a supply of refuse was restored. The effect of tips on colony growth was stronger when the availability of natural foraging habitat around the colonies was low, suggesting that anthropogenic food acts as a buffer against shortage of natural food. Artificial food supplementation may be an effective tool to increase the breeding population of target species, especially those facing a reduction of their foraging habitats. The potential effects on bird species of Directive 1999/31/CE, which is enforcing a massive closure of tips in Europe, are discussed. [source]

Breeding biology and conservation of the Black-vented Shearwater Puffinus opisthomelas

IBIS, Issue 4 2003
Bradford S. Keitt
The Black-vented Shearwater Puffinus opisthomelas is endemic to the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico. We studied the breeding biology of this species at Natividad Island in 1997 and 1998. The colony at Natividad Island covers approximately 2.5 km2 and we estimated there to be 114 455 ( 27 520 95% CI) burrows in the colony. In 1997 burrow occupancy was 66.9%, providing a population estimate of 76 570 ( 18 411 95% CI) breeding pairs, representing about 95% of the world's population of this species. In 1997 the peak in egg laying occurred in early March and hatching began on 7 May. The incubation period averaged 51 days ( 6 sd) and chick rearing averaged 69 days ( 3 sd). In 1998 burrow occupancy was lower (19.6%) and nest initiation was later (peak egg laying in mid-April), perhaps a result of El Nio conditions that prevailed in the Eastern Pacific at that time. We calculated that the development of the town and roads on Natividad Island have destroyed over 15% (26 532 burrows) of the breeding habitat on the island. [source]

Reduced genetic variation in Norwegian Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus indicated by minisatellite DNA fingerprinting

IBIS, Issue 1 2002
Jan T. Lifjeld
The Scandinavian Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus population went through a severe population bottleneck during the second half of the twentieth century, and was almost extinct during the 1970s. This event may have reduced the amount of genetic variation in the population. With this background, a comparative study, using multilocus, minisatellite DNA fingerprinting, was carried out on broods of the Peregrine Falcon, the Merlin Falco columbarius and the Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo from south-east Norway. Band-sharing analysis of DNA fingerprints was used to test whether broods of Peregrine Falcons showed a greater between-nest similarity in their fingerprint profiles than did broods of the two congeneric species breeding in the same region, which have not undergone any recent population bottlenecks. The results show that broods of Peregrine Falcons were significantly more similar to each other genetically than were broods of either Merlins or Eurasian Hobbies. Furthermore, there was a positive correlation between the similarity in minisatellite DNA and the similarity in a set of 11 microsatellite loci analysed for a subset of the Peregrine Falcon samples. The correlation supports the assumption that minisatellite fingerprints provide a reliable indicator of overall genetic similarity, i.e. relatedness, between breeding pairs in the population. Hence we can conclude that broods of Peregrine Falcons were genetically more related to each other than were broods of the other two species. The high similarity in minisatellite DNA between broods indicates a loss of genetic variation in the Peregrine Falcon population caused by the bottleneck, but this explanation can only be verified through a comparative genetic study of individuals sampled before and after the bottleneck event. [source]

Breeding biology and breeding success of the Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor in a stable and dense population

IBIS, Issue 2 2000
The Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor is highly endangered throughout Europe, having declined markedly in abundance and range. Long-term changes in climate and agricultural practices have been identified as the main reasons for its decline. To determine which factors influence short-term changes in breeding success, we examined several aspects of its breeding biology. Our investigation revealed that our study area bears a large and stable population of this species. In 1996 and 1997, we recorded 84 and 77 breeding pairs in an area of 20 km2, with an average of 4.20 and 3.85 pairs/km2 respectively. Data on breeding density, clutch size and fledging success from 1989 to 1997 (excluding 1992) indicate a stable breeding population with a constant high breeding success. Reproductive success declined through the season, mainly through seasonal variation in clutch size rather than chick mortality. However, breeding success was generally high (69% and 79% of the nests produced chicks], with low hatching failure and few nest losses. The main cause of breeding failure was nest predation (at least 50% of nest losses), mainly by magpies (at least 66% of depredated nests). Although in this population the Lesser Grey Shrike tends to aggregate in clusters, breeding density had no obvious effect on breeding success and nest predation. [source]

Age-related change in breeding performance in early life is associated with an increase in competence in the migratory barn swallow Hirundo rustica

Summary 1We investigated age-related changes in two reproductive traits (laying date and annual fecundity) in barn swallows Hirundo rustica L. using a mixed model approach to di-stinguish among between- and within-individual changes in breeding performance with age. 2We tested predictions of age-related improvements of competence (i.e. constraint hypothesis) and age-related progressive disappearance of poor-quality breeders (i.e. selection hypothesis) to explain age-related increase in breeding performance in early life. 3Reproductive success increased in early life, reaching a plateau at middle age (e.g. at 3 years of age) and decreasing at older age (> 4 years). Age-related changes in breeding success were due mainly to an effect of female age. 4Age of both female and male affected timing of reproduction. Final linear mixed effect models (LME) for laying date included main and quadratic terms for female and male age, suggesting a deterioration in reproductive performance at older age for both males and females. 5We found evidence supporting the constraints hypothesis that increases in competence within individuals, with ageing being the most probable cause of the observed increase in breeding performance with age in early life. Two mechanisms were implicated: (1) advance in male arrival date with age provided middle-aged males with better access to mates. Yearling males arrived later to the breeding grounds and therefore had limited access to high-quality mates. (2) Breeding pairs maintaining bonds for 2 consecutive years (experienced pairs) had higher fecundity than newly formed inexperienced breeding pairs. 6There was no support for the selection hypothesis because breeding performance was not correlated with life span. 7We found a within-individual deterioration in breeding and migratory performance (arrival date) in the oldest age-classes consistent with senescence in these reproductive and migratory traits. [source]

Reproductive success and helper effects in the cooperatively breeding grey-crowned babbler

C. J. Blackmore
Abstract Cooperative breeding, where some individuals help to raise offspring that are not their own, is a relatively rare social system in birds. We studied the breeding biology of a declining cooperative breeder, the grey-crowned babbler Pomatostomus temporalis, with the aim of isolating the social factors that affect its reproductive success. Most breeding pairs were assisted by philopatric offspring, although pairs could breed successfully without helpers. Females laid up to four clutches (usually three eggs per clutch) per season. Male (but not female) helpers increased the number of young fledged from individual nests and the likelihood of re-nesting, resulting in higher seasonal fledgling production. Helper effects on brood size and fledgling production were greater in the second year of the study, which was also characterized by higher nest failure. This suggests that helpers enhance reproduction more in poor conditions. Our study demonstrates the interacting effects of social and ecological factors on reproductive success, and that retention of offspring is not always beneficial for the breeders in cooperative species. [source]

Restoration of genetic connectivity among Northern Rockies wolf populations

Probably no conservation genetics issue is currently more controversial than the question of whether grey wolves (Canis lupus) in the Northern Rockies have recovered to genetically effective levels. Following the dispersal-based recolonization of Northwestern Montana from Canada, and reintroductions to Yellowstone and Central Idaho, wolves have vastly exceeded population recovery goals of 300 wolves distributed in at least 10 breeding pairs in each of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. With >1700 wolves currently, efforts to delist wolves from endangered status have become mired in legal battles over the distinct population segment (DPS) clause of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and whether subpopulations within the DPS were genetically isolated. An earlier study by vonHoldt et al. (2008) suggested Yellowstone National Park wolves were indeed isolated and was used against delisting in 2008. Since then, wolves were temporarily delisted, and a first controversial hunting season occurred in fall of 2009. Yet, concerns over the genetic recovery of wolves in the Northern Rockies remain, and upcoming District court rulings in the summer of 2010 will probably include consideration of gene flow between subpopulations. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, vonHoldt et al. (2010) conduct the largest analysis of gene flow and population structure of the Northern Rockies wolves to date. Using an impressive sampling design and novel analytic methods, vonHoldt et al. (2010) show substantial levels of gene flow between three identified subpopulations of wolves within the Northern Rockies, clarifying previous analyses and convincingly showing genetic recovery. [source]

Genetic and morphological evolution following a founder event in the dark-eyed junco, Junco hyemalis thurberi

C. A. Rasner
Abstract An isolated population of dark-eyed juncos, Junco hyemalis, became established on the campus of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), probably in the early 1980s. It now numbers about 70 breeding pairs. Populations across the entire natural range of the subspecies J. h. thurberi are weakly differentiated from each other at five microsatellite loci (FST = 0.01). The UCSD population is significantly different from these populations, the closest of which is 70 km away. It has 88% of the genetic heterozygosity and 63% of the allelic richness of populations in the montane range of the subspecies, consistent with a harmonic mean effective population size of 32 (but with 95% confidence limits from four to > 70) over the eight generations since founding. Results suggest a moderate bottleneck in the early establishment phase but with more than seven effective founders. Individuals in the UCSD population have shorter wings and tails than those in the nearby mountains and a common garden experiment indicates that the morphological differences are genetically based. The moderate effective population size is not sufficient for the observed morphological differences to have evolved as a consequence of genetic drift, indicating a major role for selection subsequent to the founding of the UCSD population. [source]

Host density predicts presence of cuckoo parasitism in reed warblers

OIKOS, Issue 6 2007
Brd G. Stokke
In some hosts of avian brood parasites, several populations apparently escape parasitism, while others are parasitized. Many migratory specialist brood parasites like common cuckoos, Cuculus canorus, experience a short breeding season, and in order to maintain local parasite populations host densities should be sufficiently high to allow efficient nest search. However, no studies have investigated the possible effect of host density on presence of cuckoo parasitism among populations of a single host species. Here, we investigated possible predictors of common cuckoo parasitism in 16 populations of reed warblers, Acrocephalus scirpaceus, across Europe. In more detail, we quantified the effect of host density, number of host breeding pairs, habitat type, mean distance to nearest cuckoo vantage point, predation rate and latitude on the presence of cuckoo parasitism while controlling for geographical distance among study populations. Host density was a powerful predictor of parasitism. We also found a less pronounced effect of habitat type on occurrence of parasitism, while the other variables did not explain why cuckoos utilize some reed warbler populations and not others. This is the first study focusing on patterns of common cuckoo-host interactions within a specific host species on a large geographic scale. The results indicate that if host density is below a specific threshold, cuckoo parasitism is absent regardless of the state of other potentially confounding variables. [source]