Highlights from the latest issue
October 2017 | Vol. 159, issue 4
The October issue contains 17 full papers,one short communication, book reviews and the 47th report of the BOU’s Records Committee.
Here are some of the many highlights in this issue.
- The song of Skylarks Alauda arvensis indicates the deterioration of an acoustic environment resulting from wind farm start-up
Paweł Szymański, Krzysztof Deoniziak, Katarzyna Łosak & Tomasz S. Osiejuk
The impacts of renewable energy production on birds have been widely studied, largely from the point of view of the dangers they pose from collisions. Now Paweł Szymański and colleagues from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, add a new dimension to this body of work by assessing how the sound of wind turbines affect the vocal communication of birds nearby. Examining the songs of Skylarks from near both operational and non-operational wind turbines, and from areas away from turbines altogether, they find that males sang higher-frequency songs near operating turbines than those near non-operating turbines or in control areas with no turbines. They conclude that this rapid change in song parameters may indicate a significant deterioration of the acoustic environment as a consequence of wind farm start-up, suggesting a wholly unexpected consequence of renewable energy production.
- No short- or long-term effects of geolocator attachment detected in Pied Flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca
Sophie C. Bell, Myriam El Harouchi, Chris M. Hewson & Malcolm D. Burgess
Rapid improvements in tracking technology means that ever-smaller species of bird can be fitted with devices that record, directly or indirectly, where the individuals move. However, there is a growing body of literature that suggests that simply by fitting these devices, researchers may be influencing the movements and even the survival of the individuals tagged. In perhaps the most comprehensive assessment of these effects to date, Sophie Bell of PiedFly.net and colleagues investigated the impacts of fitting geolocator tags to Pied Flycatchers on a wide range of demographic variables. They find that fitting tags had no detectable impact on any of them – tagged birds showed the same rates of breeding success, return rates and subsequent time of breeding as un-tagged birds. The authors conclude that tagging does not necessarily influence birds, but that preliminary tests of such effects are needed before new species are tagged, or new tags are deployed.
- Seasonal variation in food availability influences the breeding strategy of White-collared Blackbirds Turdus albocinctus on the Tibetan Plateau
Li-Qing Fan, Guo-Liang Chen, Xin-Wei Da,Juan-Juan Luo, Li-Li Xian, Qing-Miao Ren, Yu-Yan Xie & Bo Du
The strategies that permit species to exist at high altitudes have long fascinated ornithologists. Li-Qing Fan of the Institute of Plateau Ecology, Tibet Agriculture and Animal Husbandry College, and colleagues examine the breeding strategy of the White-collared Blackbird on the Tibetan Plateau, where this species usually has two breeding attempts in a season. They find that the strategy of the two attempts differs markedly; during the first, males make higher contributions to feeding the chicks and the pair produces fewer, high-quality chicks, whereas during the second, when conditions are less harsh, both parents make an equal contribution and produce more chicks of lower quality. The authors suggest that this difference in breeding strategies between nesting attempts and sexes is in part influenced by marked seasonal variation in food availability in this harsh environment.
- Increased lifetime reproductive success of first-hatched siblings in Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus
Jesus Martinez-Padilla, Pablo Vergara & Juan A. Fargallo
Laying and hatching order have been proposed to influence individual quality of chicks during the growing period, but little is known about the fitness consequences that they have on offspring from a lifetime perspective. Jesus Martinez-Padilla and colleagues from the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid, assess the effects of hatching order on lifetime reproductive success in Kestrels using a long-term study of marked individuals. They find that first-hatched chicks, but not necessarily chicks from first-laid eggs, show higher survival probability and lifetime reproductive success than their siblings. This was probably mediated by a higher rate of recruitment into the population in the year after birth, rather than by any inherently higher quality or by having higher quality mates.
Skylark | Vogelartinfo | GFDL | Wikimedia Commons
Pied Flycatcher | Steve Garvie | CC-BY-SA-2.0 | Wikimedia Commons
White-collared Blackbird | Francesco Veronesi | CC-BY-SA-2.0 | Wikimedia Commons
Common Kestrels | Dixonsej | PD-Self | Wikimedia Commons