160 Works

Data from: Accelerated redevelopment of vocal skills is preceded by lasting reorganization of the song motor circuitry

Michiel Vellema, Mariana Diales Rocha, Sabrina Bascones, Sandor Zsebok, Jes Dreier, Stefan Leitner, Annemie Van Der Linden, Jonathan Brewer & Manfred Gahr
Complex motor skills take considerable time and practice to learn. Without continued practice the level of skill performance quickly degrades, posing a problem for the timely utilization of skilled motor behaviors. Here we quantified the recurring development of vocal motor skills and the accompanying changes in synaptic connectivity in the brain of a songbird, while manipulating skill performance by consecutively administrating and withdrawing testosterone. We demonstrate that a songbird with prior singing experience can significantly...

Physiological costs and age constraints of a sexual ornament: an experimental study in a wild bird

Alexandra McQueen, Kaspar Delhey, Beatrice Szecsenyi, Ondi Crino, Michael Roast & Anne Peters
Sexual ornaments are often considered honest signals of quality because potential costs or constraints prevent their display by low-quality individuals. Testing for potential physiological costs of ornaments is difficult, as this requires experimentally forcing individuals to produce and display elaborate ornaments. We use this approach to test whether a sexually selected trait is physiologically costly to male superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus). Male fairy-wrens moult from brown to blue breeding plumage at different times of the...

Data from: Timing of arrival in the breeding area is repeatable and affects reproductive success in a non-migratory population of blue tits

Carol Gilsenan, Mihai Valcu & Bart Kempenaers
Events in one part of the annual cycle often affect the performance (and subsequently fitness) of individuals later in the season (carry-over effects). An important aspect of this relates to the timing of activities. For example, many studies on migratory birds have shown that relatively late spring arrival in the breeding area reduces both the likelihood of getting a mate or territory and reproductive success. In contrast, relatively little is known about movements of individuals...

Data from: The effects of life history and sexual selection on male and female plumage colouration

James Dale, Cody J. Dey, Kaspar Delhey, Bart Kempenaers & Mihai Valcu
Classical sexual selection theory provides a well-supported conceptual framework for understanding the evolution and signalling function of male ornaments. It predicts that males obtain greater fitness benefits than females through multiple mating because sperm are cheaper to produce than eggs. Sexual selection should therefore lead to the evolution of male-biased secondary sexual characters. However, females of many species are also highly ornamented. The view that this is due to a correlated genetic response to selection...

Data from: Troubleshooting the potential pitfalls of cross-fostering

Isabel S. Winney, Shinichi Nakagawa, Yu-Hsun Hsu, Terry Burke, Julia Schroeder & Isabel Winney
1. Cross-fostering is the transfer of offspring between their natal environment and a new social environment. This method allows researchers to disentangle the genetic and interacting environmental effects that influence phenotypes, and is popular in both wild and laboratory studies. Here, we discuss three factors that might bias cross-fostering and influence ecological and evolutionary conclusions if not accommodated. 2. First, cross-fostering tends to be spatially and temporally non-random because heterogeneous breeding conditions can result in...

Data from: Repeated stressors in adulthood increase the rate of biological ageing

Michaela Hau, Mark F. Haussmann, Timothy J. Greives, Christa Matlack, David Costantini, Michael Quetting, James S. Adelman, Ana Catarina Miranda & Jesko Partecke
Background: Individuals of the same age can differ substantially in the degree to which they have accumulated tissue damage, akin to bodily wear and tear, from past experiences. This accumulated tissue damage reflects the individual’s biological age and may better predict physiological and behavioural performance than the individual‘s chronological age. However, at present it remains unclear how to reliably assess biological age in individual wild vertebrates. Methods: We exposed hand-raised adult Eurasian blackbirds (Turdus merula)...

Data from: Collective decision-making in homing pigeons: Larger flocks take longer to decide but do not make better decisions

Carlos D. Santos, Sebastian Przybyzin, Martin Wikelski & Dina K. N. Dechmann
Social animals routinely are challenged to make consensus decisions about movement directions and routes. However, the underlying mechanisms facilitating such decision-making processes are still poorly known. A prominent question is how group members participate in group decisions. We addressed this question by examining how flocks of homing pigeons (Columba livia) decide their homing direction. We released newly formed flocks varying in size and determined the time taken to choose a homing direction (decision-making period) and...

Data from: Validating two-dimensional leadership models on three-dimensionally structured fish schools

Isobel Watts, Mate Nagy, Robert I. Holbrook, Dora Biro & Theresa Burt De Perera
Identifying leader-follower interactions is crucial for understanding how a group decides where or when to move, and how this information is transferred between members. Although many animal groups have a three-dimensional structure, previous studies investigating leader-follower interactions have often ignored vertical information. This raises the question whether commonly used two-dimensional leader-follower analyses can be used justifiably on groups that interact in three dimensions. To address this we quantified the individual movements of banded tetra fish...

Data from: The effect of colour-producing mechanisms on plumage sexual dichromatism in passerines and parrots

Kaspar Delhey & Anne Peters
Sexual dichromatism (SD) often reflects intense sexual selection on males. It has been hypothesized that sexual selection should favour the elaboration of those male colours that honestly signal quality and that such colours should therefore show higher SD. Costliness of colours is expected to vary according to their production mechanism (pigment type, feather microstructure and combinations thereof). Carotenoid-based colours, due to their dietary origin and competing functions of carotenoid pigments, are the best documented costly...

Data from: Lateralized feeding behavior is associated with asymmetrical neuroanatomy and lateralized gene expressions in the brain in scale-eating cichlid fish

Hyuk Je Lee, Ralf F. Schneider, Tereza Manousaki, Ji Hyoun Kang, Etienne Lein, Paolo Franchini & Axel Meyer
Lateralized behavior (‘handedness’) is unusual, but consistently found across diverse animal lineages, including humans. It is thought to reflect brain anatomical and/or functional asymmetries, but its neuro-molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. Lake Tanganyika scale-eating cichlid fish, Perissodus microlepis show pronounced asymmetry in their jaw morphology as well as handedness in feeding behavior – feeding scales preferentially only from one or the other side of their victims. This makes them an ideal model in which to...

Data from: Insectivorous bats integrate social information about species identity, conspecific activity, and prey abundance to estimate cost-benefit ratio of interactions

Daniel Lewanzik, Arun K. Sundaramurthy & Holger R. Goerlitz
Animals can use inadvertent social information to improve fitness‐relevant decisions, for instance about where to forage or with whom to interact. Since bats emit high‐amplitude species‐specific echolocation calls when flying, they provide a constant flow of inadvertent social information to others who can decode that acoustic information. Of particular interest is the rate of feeding buzzes – characteristic call sequences preceding any prey capture – which correlates with insect abundance. Previous studies investigating eavesdropping in...

Data from: Behavioural mediators of genetic life-history trade-offs: a test of the pace-of-life syndrome hypothesis in field crickets

Francesca Santostefano, Alastair J. Wilson, Petri T. Niemela & Niels J. Dingemanse
The pace-of-life syndrome (POLS) hypothesis predicts associations between life-history and ‘risky’ behaviours. Individuals with ‘fast’ lifestyles should develop faster, reproduce earlier, exhibit more risk-prone behaviour, and die sooner than those with ‘slow’ lifestyles. While support for POLS has been equivocal to date, studies have relied on individual-level (phenotypic) patterns in which genetic trade-offs may be masked by environmental effects on phenotypes. We estimated genetic correlations between life-history (development, lifespan, size) and risky behaviours (exploration, aggression)...

Data from: Experimental illumination of a forest: no effects of lights of different colours on the onset of the dawn chorus in songbirds

Arnaud Da Silva, Maaike De Jong, Roy H. A. Van Grunsven, Marcel E. Visser, Bart Kempenaers & Kamiel Spoelstra
Light pollution is increasing exponentially, but its impact on animal behaviour is still poorly understood. For songbirds, the most repeatable finding is that artificial night lighting leads to an earlier daily onset of dawn singing. Most of these studies are, however, correlational and cannot entirely dissociate effects of light pollution from other effects of urbanization. In addition, there are no studies in which the effects of different light colours on singing have been tested. Here,...

Data from: Testing the phenotype-linked fertility hypothesis in the presence and absence of inbreeding

Wolfgang Forstmeier, Malika Ihle, Pavlina Opatova, Katrin Martin, Ulrich Knief, Jana Albrechtová, Tomas Albrecht & Bart Kempenaers
The phenotype-linked fertility hypothesis suggests that females can judge male fertility by inspecting male phenotypic traits. This is because male sexually selected traits might correlate with sperm quality if both are sensitive to factors that influence male condition. A recent meta-analysis found little support for this hypothesis, suggesting little or no shared condition dependence. However, we recently reported that in captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) inbreeding had detrimental effects both on phenotypic traits and on...

Data from: Association mapping of morphological traits in wild and captive zebra finches: reliable within but not between populations

Ulrich Knief, Holger Schielzeth, Niclas Backstrom, Georg Hemmrich-Stanisak, Michael Wittig, Andre Franke, Simon C. Griffith, Hans Ellegren, Bart Kempenaers & Wolfgang Forstmeier
Identifying causal genetic variants underlying heritable phenotypic variation is a longstanding goal in evolutionary genetics. We previously identified several quantitative trait loci (QTL) for five morphological traits in a captive population of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) by whole-genome linkage mapping. We here follow up on these studies with the aim to narrow down on the quantitative trait variants (QTN) in one wild and three captive populations. First, we performed an association study using 672 single...

Data from: Age-dependent trajectories differ between within-pair and extra-pair paternity success

Yu-Hsun Hsu, Mirre J. P. Simons, Julia Schroeder, Antje Girndt, Isabel S. Winney, Terry Burke, Shinichi Nakagawa & Y.-H. Hsu
Reproductive success is associated with age in many taxa, increasing in early life followed by reproductive senescence. In socially monogamous, but genetically polygamous species, this generates the interesting possibility of differential trajectories of within-pair and extra-pair siring success with age in males. We investigate these relationships simultaneously using within-individual analyses with 13 years of data from an insular house sparrow (Passer domesticus) population. As expected, we found that both within- and extra-pair paternity success increased...

Data from: Scaring waterfowl as a management tool: how much more do geese forage after disturbance?

Bart A. Nolet, Andrea Kölzsch, Michiel Elderenbosch & Arie J. Van Noordwijk
With increasing numbers of many herbivorous waterfowl species, often foraging on farmland, the conflict with agriculture has intensified. One popular management tool is to scare birds off the land, often in association with shooting. However, the energy costs of flying are considerably higher than those of resting. Therefore, when birds fly off after a disturbance, they use extra energy that subsequently needs to be compensated. We used the white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, the most common...

Data from: Pre-basic molt, feather quality and modulation of the adrenocortical response to stress in two populations of Rufous-collared sparrows, Zonotrichia capensis

Valentina Echeverria, Cristián F. Estades, Esteban Botero-Delgadillo, John C. Wingfield & Paulina L. Gonzalez-Gomez
Molt is an energetically expensive process in which birds may allocate 25% or more of their body protein mass to the production of new feathers. Stressful events can interfere with feather growth via the adrenal hormone corticosterone, which is released in response to environmental stress. Corticosterone release, in turn, regulates gluconeogenesis which could directly inhibit protein synthesis and deposition during molt when feathers are growing, which potentially could reduce feather quality dramatically. Thus, many species...

Data from: Irreproducible text-book 'knowledge': the effects of color bands on zebra finch fitness

Daiping Wang, Wolfgang Forstmeier, Malika Ihle, Mehdi Khadraoui, Sofia Jerónimo, Katrin Martin & Bart Kempenaers
Many fields of science currently experience a heated debate about the extent of publication bias against null-findings. Here, we show a case where putatively well-established text-book knowledge cannot be confirmed. Across four decades, zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) studies have reported effects of bands of certain colors on male or female attractiveness and further on behavior, physiology, life-history and fitness. Only 8 out of 39 publications presented exclusively null-findings. Here, we analyze the results of eight...

Data from: Weather conditions determine attenuation and speed of sound: environmental limitations for monitoring and analysing bat echolocation

Holger R. Goerlitz
Echolocating bats are regularly studied to investigate auditory-guided behaviours and as important bioindicators. Bioacoustic monitoring methods based on echolocation calls are increasingly used for risk assessment and to ultimately inform conservation strategies for bats. As echolocation calls transmit through the air at the speed of sound, they undergo changes due to atmospheric and geometric attenuation. Both the speed of sound and atmospheric attenuation, however, are variable and determined by weather conditions, particularly temperature and relative...

Data from: Scrutinizing assortative mating in birds

Daiping Wang, Wolfgang Forstmeier, Mihai Valcu, Niels Dingemanse, Martin Bulla, Christiaan Both, Renée A. Duckworth, Lynna Marie Kiere, Patrik Karell, Tomáš Albrecht & Bart Kempenaers
It is often claimed that pair bonds preferentially form between individuals that resemble one another. Such assortative mating appears to be widespread throughout the animal kingdom. Yet it is unclear whether the apparent ubiquity of assortative mating arises primarily from mate choice (‘like attracts like’) which can be constrained by same-sex competition for mates, from spatial or temporal separation, or from observer, reporting, publication or search bias. Here, based on a conventional literature search, we...

Data from: Dietary antioxidants attenuate the endocrine stress response during long-duration flight of a migratory bird

Stefania Casagrande, Kristen Demoranville, Lisa Trost, Barbara Pierce, Amadeusz Bryla, Maciej Dzialo, Edyta Sadowska, Ulf Bauchinger & Scott McWilliams
Glucocorticoids (GCs) are metabolic hormones that promote catabolic processes, which release stored energy and support high metabolic demands such as during prolonged flights of migrating birds. Dietary antioxidants (e.g., anthocyanins) support metabolism by quenching excess reactive oxygen species produced during aerobic metabolism, and also by activating metabolic pathways that, similar to GCs’ function, release stored energy, although the extent of complementarity between GCs and dietary antioxidants is not well known. If anthocyanins complement GCs functions,...

Data from: Large birds travel farther in homogeneous environments

Marlee A. Tucker, Olga Alexandrou, , Keith L. Bildstein, Katrin Böhning-Gaese, Chloe Bracis, John N. Brzorad, Evan R. Buechley, David Cabot, Justin M. Calabrese, Carlos Carrapato, André Chiaradia, Lisa C. Davenport, Sarah C. Davidson, Mark Desholm, Christopher R. DeSorbo, Robert Domenech, Peter Enggist, William F. Fagan, Nina Farwig, Wolfgang Fiedler, Christen H. Fleming, Alastair Franke, John M. Fryxell, Clara García-Ripollés … & João Paulo Silva
Aim: Animal movement is an important determinant of individual survival, population dynamics, and ecosystem structure and function. Yet it is still unclear how local movements are related to resource availability and the spatial arrangement of resources. Using resident bird species and migratory bird species outside of the migratory period, we examined how the distribution of resources affect the movement patterns of both large terrestrial birds (e.g., raptors, bustards, hornbills) and waterbirds (e.g., cranes, storks, ducks,...

Data from: Early-life telomere length predicts lifespan and lifetime reproductive success in a wild bird

Justin R. Eastwood, Michelle L. Hall, Niki Teunissen, Sjouke A. Kingma, Nataly Hidalgo Aranzamendi, Marie Fan, Michael Roast, Simon Verhulst & Anne Peters
Poor conditions during early development can initiate trade-offs that favour current survival at the expense of somatic maintenance and subsequently, future reproduction. However, the mechanisms that link early and late life-history are largely unknown. Recently it has been suggested that telomeres, the nucleoprotein structures at the terminal end of chromosomes, could link early-life conditions to lifespan and fitness. In wild purple-crowned fairy-wrens, we combined measurements of nestling telomere length (TL) with detailed life-history data to...

Life history and environment predict variation in testosterone across vertebrates

Jerry Husak, Matthew Fuxjager, Michele A. Johnson, Maren Vitousek, Jeremy Donald, Clinton David Francis, Wolfgang Goymann, Michaela Hau, Bonnie Kircher, Rosemary Knapp, Lynn B. Martin, Eliot Miller, Laura Schoenle & Tony Williams
Endocrine systems act as key intermediaries between organisms and their environments. This interaction leads to high variability in hormone levels, but we know little about the ecological factors that influence this variation within and across major vertebrate groups. We study this topic by assessing how various social and environmental dynamics influence testosterone levels across the entire vertebrate tree of life. Our analyses show that breeding season length and mating system are the strongest predictors of...

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Resource Types

  • Dataset


  • Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
  • University of Konstanz
  • Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Groningen
  • Monash University
  • Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie
  • Uppsala University
  • University of Oxford
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology