Urban blackbirds have shorter telomeres

Urbanization, one of the most extreme human-induced environmental changes, represents a major challenge for many organisms. Anthropogenic habitats can have opposing effects on different fitness components, for example, by decreasing starvation risk but also health status. Telomere length is a promising candidate for examining the effects of urbanization on the health status of individuals. Here, telomere length difference between urban and forest-dwelling common blackbirds is investigated.

How will climate change affect endangered Mediterranean waterbirds

Global warming and direct anthropogenic impacts, such as water extraction, largely affect water budgets in Mediterranean wetlands, thereby increasing wetland salinities and isolation, and decreasing water depths and hydroperiods (duration of the inundation period). These wetland features are key elements structuring waterbird communities. However, the ultimate and net consequences of these dynamic conditions on waterbird assemblages are largely unknown. A regular sampling of waterbird...

Dark pigmentation limits thermal niche position in birds

Animal pigmentation has evolved because of several adaptive functions. In the case of pigmentation produced by melanins, the most common pigments in animals, the main function is protection against UV radiation. However, pigmentation also affects animal surface's ability to absorb solar radiation and gain heat, which may represent a thermal constraint for endotherms. Here, a detailed quantification of the expression of pigmentation phenotypes produced by melanins in 96 species of birds...

Sexual dichromatism in the Western Palearctic avifauna

Melanins are the most common pigments providing coloration in the plumage and bare skin of birds and other vertebrates. Numerous species are dichromatic in the adult or definitive plumage, but the direction of this type of sexual dichromatism (i.e., whether one sex tends to be darker than the other ones) has not been thoroughly investigated. Using color plates, the presence of melanin-based color patches in 666 species belonging to 69 families regularly breeding in the Western Palearctic was...

Ecological determinants of avian malaria infections

Vector and host communities, as well as habitat characteristics, may have important but different impacts on the prevalence, richness and evenness of vector-borne parasites. Here, the relative importance of (1) the mosquito community composition, (2) the vertebrate community composition and (3) landscape characteristics on the prevalence, richness and evenness of avian Plasmodium are investigated.