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    [–] Birds do not habituate to traffic noise. Noise pollution is one of the leading environmental health risks in humans. In zebra finches, noise affects their health and the growth of their offspring. QuietCakeBionics 12 points ago in science

    Link to study:


    The impact of human activity on the acoustic environment is overwhelming, with anthropogenic noise reaching even remote areas of the planet. The World Health Organization has identified noise pollution as one of the leading environmental health risks in humans, and it has been linked to a myriad of short- and long-term health effects in exposed individuals. However, less is known about the health effects of anthropogenic noise exposure on animals. We investigated long- and short-term effects of traffic noise on zebra finches breeding in small communal aviaries, using a repeated measures design. Birds bred in both noise and no-noise conditions, and we measured baseline plasma glucocorticoid levels before, during and after breeding. In addition, we assayed immune function, measured reproductive success and offspring growth and compared rates of extra-pair paternity of breeding adults. Breeding birds had significantly lower baseline plasma corticosterone levels when exposed to traffic noise than when they were not exposed to noise playback. In addition, the nestlings reared during noise exposure were lighter than nestlings of the same parents when breeding in control conditions. Our results suggest that traffic noise poses a more severe hurdle to birds at more vulnerable stages of their life history, such as during reproductive events and ontogeny. While chronic exposure to traffic noise in our birds did not, by itself, prove to be a sufficient stressor to cause acute effects on health or reproductive success in exposed individuals, it did result in disruptions to normal glucocorticoid profiles and delayed offspring growth. However, animals living in urban habitats are exposed to a multitude of anthropogenic disturbances, and it is likely that even species that appear to be thriving in noisy environments may suffer cumulative effects of these multiple disturbances that may together impact their fitness in urban environments.

    [–] Investing in love and affection pays off for species that mate for life. Study shows some birds form long-term bonds to raise their young more efficiently. QuietCakeBionics 6 points ago in science

    Study link:


    In many species that form pair bonds, males display to their mate after pair formation. These displays elevate the female’s investment into the brood. This is a form of cooperation because without the display, female investment is reduced to levels that are suboptimal for both sexes. The presence of such displays is paradoxical as in their absence the male should be able to invest extra resources directly into offspring, to the benefit of both sexes. We consider that the origin of these displays lies in the exploitation of preexisting perceptual biases which increase female investment beyond that which is optimal for her, initially resulting in a sexual conflict. We use a combined population genetic and quantitative genetic model to show how this conflict becomes resolved into sexual cooperation. A cooperative outcome is most likely when perceptual biases are under selection pressures in other contexts (e.g., detection of predators, prey, or conspecifics), but this is not required. Cooperation between pair members can regularly evolve even when this provides no net advantage to the pair and when the display itself reduces a male’s contributions to raising the brood. The findings account for many interactions between the sexes that have been difficult to explain in the context of sexual selection.

    [–] Capturing elephants from the wild hinders their reproduction for over a decade QuietCakeBionics 891 points ago in science

    Link to paper:


    Capturing wild animals is common for conservation, economic or research purposes. Understanding how capture itself affects lifetime fitness measures is often difficult because wild and captive populations live in very different environments and there is a need for long-term life-history data. Here, we show how wild capture influences reproduction in 2685 female Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) used in the timber industry in Myanmar. Wild-caught females demonstrated a consistent reduction in breeding success relative to captive-born females, with significantly lower lifetime reproduction probabilities, lower breeding probabilities at peak reproductive ages and a later age of first reproduction. Furthermore, these negative effects lasted for over a decade, and there was a significant influence on the next generation: wild-caught females had calves with reduced survival to age 5. Our results suggest that wild capture has long-term consequences for reproduction, which is important not only for elephants, but also for other species in captivity.

    [–] New study finds female Atlantic right whales lower their voices to a whisper when communicating with their young to prevent “eavesdropping” by predators QuietCakeBionics 417 points ago in science

    Link to study:


    Mammals with dependent young often rely on cryptic behaviour to avoid detection by potential predators. In the mysticetes, large baleen whales, young calves are known to be vulnerable to direct predation from both shark and orca predators; therefore, it is possible that mother–calf pairs may show cryptic behaviours to avoid the attention of predators. Baleen whales primarily communicate through low-frequency acoustic signals, which can travel over long ranges. In this study, we explore the potential for acoustic crypsis, a form of cryptic behaviour to avoid predator detection, in North Atlantic right whale mother–calf pairs. We predicted that mother–calf pairs would either show reduced calling rates, reduced call amplitude or a combination of these behavioural modifications when compared with other demographic groups in the same habitat. Our results show that right whale mother–calf pairs have a strong shift in repertoire usage, significantly reducing the number of higher amplitude, long-distance communication signals they produced when compared with juvenile and pregnant whales in the same habitat. These observations show that right whale mother–calf pairs rely upon acoustic crypsis, potentially to minimize the risk of acoustic eavesdropping by predators.

    [–] Happy little pigeon QuietCakeBionics 1 points ago in Eyebleach

    They are pigeon pants, a bit like a nappy. A lot of pigeon rehabbers use them.