In species with biparental care, individuals only have to pay the costs for their own parental investment, while the contribution of their partner comes for free. Each parent hence benefits if its partner works harder, creating an evolutionary conflict of interest. How parents resolve this conflict and how they achieve the optimal division of parental tasks often remains elusive. In this study, we investigated whether lesser black-backed gulls (Larus fuscus) divide parental care during incubation...
Data from: Artificial light at night does not affect telomere shortening in a developing free-living songbird: a field experimentMelissa L. Grunst, Thomas Raap, Andrea S. Grunst, Rianne Pinxten & Marcel Eens
Artificial light at night (ALAN) is an increasingly pervasive anthropogenic disturbance factor. ALAN can seriously disrupt physiological systems that follow circadian rhythms, and may be particularly influential early in life, when developmental trajectories are sensitive to stressful conditions. Using great tits (Parus major) as a model species, we experimentally examined how ALAN affects physiological stress in developing nestlings. We used a repeated-measure design to assess effects of ALAN on telomere shortening, body mass, tarsus length...
Data from: Accelerated redevelopment of vocal skills is preceded by lasting reorganization of the song motor circuitryMichiel 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...
Many vector-borne diseases are transmitted through complex pathogen-vector-host networks, which makes it challenging to identify the role of specific host groups in disease emergence. Lyme borreliosis in humans is now the most common vector-borne zoonosis in the northern hemisphere. The disease is caused by multiple genospecies of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato bacteria transmitted by ixodid (hard) ticks, and the major host groups transmit Borrelia genospecies with different pathogenicity, causing variable clinical symptoms in humans. The...
Data from: Density-dependence and persistence of Morogoro arenavirus transmission in a fluctuating population of its reservoir hostJoachim Mariën, Benny Borremans, Christophe Verhaeren, Lucinda Kirkpatrick, Sophie Gryseels, Joëlle Goüy De Bellocq, Stephan Günther, Christopher A. Sabuni, Apia W. Massawe, Jonas Reijniers & Herwig Leirs
Background A key aim in wildlife disease ecology is to understand how host and parasite characteristics influence parasite transmission and persistence. Variation in host population density can have strong impacts on transmission and outbreaks, and theory predicts particular transmission-density patterns depending on how parasites are transmitted between individuals. Here, we present the results of a study on the dynamics of Morogoro arenavirus in a population of multimammate mice (Mastomys natalensis). This widespread African rodent, which...
Carotenoid- but not melanin-based plumage coloration is negatively related to metal exposure and proximity to the road in an urban songbirdMelissa Grunst, Andrea Grunst, Rianne Pinxten, Lieven Bervoets & Marcel Eens
Rapid urbanization is a global phenomenon that is increasingly exposing organisms to novel stressors. These novel stressors can affect diverse aspects of organismal function, including development of condition-dependent ornaments, which play critical roles in social and sexual selection. We investigated the relationship between metal pollution, proximity to roads, and carotenoid- and melanin-based plumage coloration in a common songbird, the great tit (Parus major). We studied populations located across a well-characterized metal pollution gradient and surrounded...
Socially-monogamous females regularly mate with males outside the pair bond. The prevailing explanation for this behavior is that females gain genetic benefits resulting from increased fitness of extra-pair offspring. Furthermore, because of the risk of reduced paternal care in response to cuckoldry, females are expected to seek extra-pair copulations when they can rear offspring with little help from their social partner (“constrained female” hypothesis). We tested these hypotheses and analyzed variation in paternal care in...
Data from: Accounting for interspecific competition and age structure in demographic analyses of density dependence improves predictions of fluctuations in population sizeMarlène Gamelon, Stefan J.G. Vriend, Steinar Engen, Frank Adriaensen, Andre A. Dhondt, Simon R. Evans, Erik Matthysen, Ben C. Sheldon & Bernt-Erik Sæther
Understanding species coexistence has long been a major goal of ecology. Coexistence theory for two competing species posits that intraspecific density dependence should be stronger than interspecific density dependence. Great tits and blue tits are two bird species that compete for food resources and nesting cavities. Based on long-term monitoring of these two competing species at sites across Europe, combining observational and manipulative approaches, we show that the strength of density regulation is similar for...
While numerous studies have reported negative effects of urbanisation on birds, few have examined the role of urban scale in influencing breeding success and many studies have relied on qualitative rather than quantitative assessments of urbanisation. This study sought to address these issues by testing the effects of urbanisation, measured at two spatial scales, on the breeding success of great tits Parus major. A nested study design, incorporating over 400 nestboxes, was used in study...
Data from: Proximity to roads, but not exposure to metal pollution, is associated with accelerated developmental telomere shortening in nestling great titsAndrea Grunst, Melissa Grunst, Lieven Bervoets, Rianne Pinxten & Marcel Eens
Comprehensively understanding the factors affecting physiology and fitness in urban wildlife requires concurrently considering multiple stressors. To this end, we simultaneously assessed how metal pollution and proximity to roads affect body condition and telomere shortening between days 8 and 15 of age in nestling great tits (Parus major), a common urban bird. We employed a repeated-measures sampling design to compare telomere shortening and body condition between nestlings from four urban study sites south of Antwerp,...
University of Antwerp10
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology1
Sokoine University of Agriculture1
Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine1
Eötvös Loránd University1
University of Oslo1
University of Southern Denmark1
Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques1
Norwegian Institute of Public Health1