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Impairment of mixed melanin-based pigmentation in parrots

Parrots and allies (Order Psittaciformes) have evolved an exclusive capacity to synthesize polyene pigments called psittacofulvins at feather follicles, which allows them to produce a striking diversity of pigmentation phenotypes. Melanins are polymers constituting the most abundant pigments in animals, and the sulphurated form (pheomelanin) produces colors that are similar to those produced by psittacofulvins. However, the differential contribution of these pigments to psittaciform phenotypic diversity has not been investigated. Given the color redundancy, and physiological limitations associated to pheomelanin synthesis, this study assumed that the latter would be avoided by psittaciform birds. This hypothesis was tested by using Raman spectroscopy to identify pigments in feathers exhibiting colors suspicious of being produced by pheomelanin (i.e., dull red, yellow and grey- and green-brownish) in 26 species from the three main lineages of Psittaciformes. The non-sulphurated melanin form (eumelanin) were detected in black, grey and brown plumage patches, and psittacofulvins in red, yellow and green patches, but no evidence of pheomelanin was found. As natural melanins are assumed to be composed of eumelanin and pheomelanin in varying ratios, these results represent the first report of impairment of mixed melanin-based pigmentation in animals. Given that psittaciforms also avoid the uptake of circulating carotenoid pigments, these birds seem to have evolved a capacity to avoid functional redundancy between pigments, likely by regulating follicular gene expression. The study provides the first vibrational characterization of different psittacofulvin-based colors and thus helps to determine the relative polyene chain length in these pigments, which is related to their antireductant protection activity. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Neves et al (2020) Impairment of mixed melanin-based pigmentation in parrots. J Experim Biol. DOI 10.1242/jeb.225912


https://jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2020/05/08/jeb.225912
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More active local management needed to avoid surpassing thresholds for collapse in Doñana

More active local management needed to avoid surpassing thresholds for collapse in Doñana

Many of the world's wetlands may be profoundly affected by climate change over the coming decades. Although wetland managers may have little control over the causes of climate change, they can help to counteract its effects through local measures. This is because direct anthropogenic impacts, such as water extraction and nutrient loading, work in concert with climate change to damage wetlands. Control of these local stressors may therefore ameliorate undesired effects of climate change, such as a shift towards dominance by invasive floating plants, increasingly frequent cyanobacteria blooms, or extinction of key species. Using the iconic Doñana wetlands in Spain as a case study, we illustrate how the concept of creating a "safe operating space" may be implemented to better ensure that ecosystems do not surpass thresholds for collapse during an era of global change. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Green et al (2017) Creating a safe operating space for wetlands in a changing climate. Front Ecol Environ doi:10.1002/fee.1459


http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fee.1459/full