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Sample records for developing zebra finch

  1. Observing the Zebra Finch.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Waters, Charles

    1979-01-01

    Presents natural history information on the zebra finch (Taeniopygia castanotis) for the biology teacher. Includes a section on care of the birds in the classroom and a method for constructing an inexpensive cage. (SA)

  2. Development of temporal structure in zebra finch song

    PubMed Central

    Troyer, Todd W.

    2013-01-01

    Zebra finch song has provided an excellent case study in the neural basis of sequence learning, with a high degree of temporal precision and tight links with precisely timed bursting in forebrain neurons. To examine the development of song timing, we measured the following four aspects of song temporal structure at four age ranges between 65 and 375 days posthatch: the mean durations of song syllables and the silent gaps between them, timing variability linked to song tempo, timing variability expressed independently across syllables and gaps, and transition probabilities between consecutive syllable pairs. We found substantial increases in song tempo between 65 and 85 days posthatch, due almost entirely to a shortening of gaps. We also found a decrease in tempo variability, also specific to gaps. Both the magnitude of the increase in tempo and the decrease in tempo variability were correlated on gap-by-gap basis with increases in the reliability of corresponding syllable transitions. Syllables had no systematic increase in tempo or decrease in tempo variability. In contrast to tempo parameters, both syllables and gaps showed an early sharp reduction in independent variability followed by continued reductions over the first year. The data suggest that links between syllable-based representations are strengthened during the later parts of the traditional period of song learning and that song rhythm continues to become more regular throughout the first year of life. Similar learning patterns have been identified in human sequence learning, suggesting a potentially rich area of comparative research. PMID:23175805

  3. Dissection and Downstream Analysis of Zebra Finch Embryos at Early Stages of Development

    PubMed Central

    Murray, Jessica R.; Stanciauskas, Monika E.; Aralere, Tejas S.; Saha, Margaret S.

    2014-01-01

    The zebra finch (Taeniopygiaguttata) has become an increasingly important model organism in many areas of research including toxicology1,2, behavior3, and memory and learning4,5,6. As the only songbird with a sequenced genome, the zebra finch has great potential for use in developmental studies; however, the early stages of zebra finch development have not been well studied. Lack of research in zebra finch development can be attributed to the difficulty of dissecting the small egg and embryo. The following dissection method minimizes embryonic tissue damage, which allows for investigation of morphology and gene expression at all stages of embryonic development. This permits both bright field and fluorescence quality imaging of embryos, use in molecular procedures such as in situ hybridization (ISH), cell proliferation assays, and RNA extraction for quantitative assays such as quantitative real-time PCR (qtRT-PCR). This technique allows investigators to study early stages of development that were previously difficult to access. PMID:24999108

  4. Expression of fragile X mental retardation protein within the vocal control system of developing and adult male zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Winograd, Claudia; Clayton, David; Ceman, Stephanie

    2008-01-01

    Individuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS) are cognitively impaired and have marked speech delays and deficits. Our goal was to characterize expression of FMRP, the fragile X mental retardation protein, encoded by the gene FMR1, in an animal model that learns to vocalize, namely the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata (Tgu). We cloned and sequenced the zebra finch ortholog of FMR1 (TguFmr1) and developed an antibody that recognizes TguFmrp specifically. TguFmrp has structural features similar to its human ortholog FMRP. Because FXS patients exhibit sensorimotor deficits, we examined TguFmrp expression prior to, during, and after sensorimotor song learning in zebra finches. We found that TguFmrp is expressed throughout the brain and in four major song nuclei of the male zebra finch brain, primarily in neurons. Additionally, prior to sensorimotor learning, we observed elevated TguFmrp expression in the RA of post-hatch day 30 males, compared to the surrounding telencephalon, suggesting a preparation for this stage of song learning. Finally, we observed variable TguFmrp expression in the RA of adolescent and adult males: in some males it was elevated and in others it was comparable to the surrounding telencephalon. In summary, we have characterized the zebra finch ortholog of FMRP and found elevated levels in the premotor nucleus RA at a key developmental stage for vocal learning. PMID:18835331

  5. Dynamics of zebra finch and mockingbird vocalizations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cimenser, Aylin

    Along with humans, whales, and bats, three groups of birds which include songbirds (oscines) such as the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) and Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) are the only creatures known to learn sounds by imitation. Numerous similarities between human and songbird vocalizations exist and, recently, it has been shown that Zebra Finch in particular possesses a gene, FoxP2, known to be involved in human language. This thesis investigates song development in Zebra Finches, as well as the temporal dynamics of song in Mockingbirds. Zebra Finches have long been the system of choice for studying vocal development, ontogeny, and complexity in birdsong. Physicists find them intriguing because the spectrally complex vocalizations of the Zebra Finch can exhibit sudden transitions to chaotic dynamics, period doubling & mode-locking phenomena. Mockingbirds, by contrast, provide an ideal system to examine the richness of an avian repertoire, since these musically versatile songbirds typically know upwards of 200 songs. To analyse birdsong data, we have developed a novel clustering algorithm that can be applied to the bird's syllables, tracing their dynamics back to the earliest stages of vocal development. To characterize birdsong we have used Fourier techniques, based upon multitaper spectral analysis, to optimally work around the constraints imposed by (Heisenberg's) time-frequency uncertainty principle. Furthermore, estimates that provide optimal compromise between frequency and temporal resolution have beautiful connections with solutions to the Helmholtz wave equation in prolate spheroidal coordinates. We have used this connection to provide firm foundation for certain heuristics used in the literature to compute associated spectral derivatives and supply a pedagogical account here in this thesis. They are of interest because spectral derivatives emphasize sudden changes in the dynamics of the underlying phenomenon, and often provide a nice way to visualize

  6. Zebra finch as a developmental model.

    PubMed

    Mak, Siu-Shan; Wrabel, Anna; Nagai, Hiroki; Ladher, Raj K; Sheng, Guojun

    2015-11-01

    The domesticated zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) is a well-established animal model for studying vocal learning. It is also a tractable model for developmental analyses. The finch genome has been sequenced and methods for its transgenesis have been reported. Hatching and sexual maturation in this species takes only two weeks and three months, respectively. Finch colonies can be established relatively easily and its eggs are laid at a stage earlier than in other common avian experimental models, facilitating the analysis of very early avian development. Representing the Neoaves to which 95% of all bird species belong, the finch can potentially complement two existing, Galloanserae developmental models, the chick, and quail. Here, we provide a step-by-step guide for how to set up a finch colony in a conventional laboratory environment. Technical tips are offered to optimize hens' productivity and ensure a constant supply of fertilized finch eggs. Methods of handling finch eggs and embryos for subsequent embryological, cellular, or molecular analyses are also discussed. We conclude by emphasizing scientific values and cost effectiveness of maintaining a finch colony for avian developmental studies. genesis 53:669-677, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. PMID:26385755

  7. Embryological Staging of the Zebra Finch, Taeniopygia guttata

    PubMed Central

    Murray, Jessica R; Varian-Ramos, Claire W; Welch, Zoe S; Saha, Margaret S

    2013-01-01

    Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are the most commonly used laboratory songbird species, yet their embryological development has been poorly characterized. Most studies to date apply Hamburger and Hamilton stages derived from chicken development; however, significant differences in development between precocial and altricial species suggest that they may not be directly comparable. We provide the first detailed description of embryological development in the Zebra Finch under standard artificial incubation. These descriptions confirm that some of the features used to classify chicken embryos into stages are not applicable in an altricial bird such as the Zebra Finch. This staging protocol will help to standardize future studies of embryological development in the Zebra Finch. J. Morphol. 274:1090–1110, 2013. © 2013 The Authors. Journal of Morphology Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. PMID:23813920

  8. Regulatory Differences in Natal Down Development between Altricial Zebra Finch and Precocial Chicken.

    PubMed

    Chen, Chih-Kuan; Ng, Chen Siang; Wu, Siao-Man; Chen, Jiun-Jie; Cheng, Po-Liang; Wu, Ping; Lu, Mei-Yeh Jade; Chen, Di-Rong; Chuong, Cheng-Ming; Cheng, Hsu-Chen; Ting, Chau-Ti; Li, Wen-Hsiung

    2016-08-01

    Birds can be classified into altricial and precocial. The hatchlings of altricial birds are almost naked, whereas those of precocial birds are covered with natal down. This regulatory divergence is thought to reflect environmental adaptation, but the molecular basis of the divergence is unclear. To address this issue, we chose the altricial zebra finch and the precocial chicken as the model animals. We noted that zebra finch hatchlings show natal down growth suppressed anterior dorsal (AD) skin but partially down-covered posterior dorsal (PD) skin. Comparing the transcriptomes of AD and PD skins, we found that the feather growth promoter SHH (sonic hedgehog) was expressed higher in PD skin than in AD skin. Moreover, the data suggested that the FGF (fibroblast growth factor)/Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway is involved in natal down growth suppression and that FGF16 is a candidate upstream signaling suppressor. Ectopic expression of FGF16 on chicken leg skin showed downregulation of SHH, upregulation of the feather growth suppressor FGF10, and suppression of feather bud elongation, similar to the phenotype found in zebra finch embryonic AD skin. Therefore, we propose that FGF16-related signals suppress natal down elongation and cause the naked AD skin in zebra finch. Our study provides insights into the regulatory divergence in natal down formation between precocial and altricial birds. PMID:27189543

  9. Locally elevated cortisol in lymphoid organs of the developing zebra finch but not Japanese quail or chicken.

    PubMed

    Taves, Matthew D; Losie, Jennifer A; Rahim, Titissa; Schmidt, Kim L; Sandkam, Benjamin A; Ma, Chunqi; Silversides, Frederick G; Soma, Kiran K

    2016-01-01

    Glucocorticoids are important for production of functional lymphocytes and immunity. In altricial neonates, adrenal glands are unresponsive and local glucocorticoid synthesis in lymphoid organs may be necessary to support lymphocyte development. Precocial neonates, in contrast, have fully responsive adrenal glucocorticoid production, and lymphoid glucocorticoid synthesis may not be necessary. Here, we found that in altricial zebra finch hatchlings, lymphoid organs had dramatically elevated endogenous glucocorticoid (and precursor) levels compared to levels in circulating blood. Furthermore, while avian adrenals produce corticosterone, finch lymphoid organs had much higher levels of cortisol, an unexpected glucocorticoid in birds. In contrast, precocial Japanese quail and chicken offspring did not have locally elevated lymphoid glucocorticoid levels, nor did their lymphoid organs contain high proportions of cortisol. These results show that lymphoid glucocorticoids differ in identity, concentration, and possibly source, in hatchlings of three different bird species. Locally-regulated glucocorticoids might have species-specific roles in immune development. PMID:26366679

  10. Time-dependent localization of high- and low-sulfated keratan sulfates in the song nuclei of developing zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Fujimoto, Hisataka; Ohgomori, Tomohiro; Abe, Kentaro; Uchimura, Kenji; Kadomatsu, Kenji; Jinno, Shozo

    2015-11-01

    Keratan sulfate proteoglycans (KSPGs) and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) consist of a protein core with covalently attached glycosaminoglycan side chain. Although CSPGs are known to regulate the end of the critical period, the role of KSPGs in brain development remains unclear. Young male zebra finches memorise song templates during development. The brain regions that are responsible for song learning, known as song nuclei, are recognized as a suitable model for the study of brain development. To understand the potential role of KSPGs, here we examined the localization of KSs with different degrees of sulfation in the brain of developing male zebra finches. Exclusively in the song nuclei, an increase in expression of 5-D-4-positive (5-D-4(+)) high-sulfated KS started after hatching, and reached a plateau at the end of the sensory period, during which the young bird listens to and memorises the song of an adult tutor. By contrast, weak and ubiquitous expression of BCD-4(+) low-sulfated KS remained unchanged until the end of the sensory period, and first increased in the song nuclei at the end of the sensorimotor period, during which the young bird produces plastic songs. Immunoblot analysis showed that phosphacan was a common core protein of 5-D-4(+) KS and BCD-4(+) KS. Finally, we confirmed that the sulfotransferase responsible for the synthesis of high-sulfated KS was exclusively localised in the song nuclei. Our observations suggest that time-dependent localization of KSPGs with different sulfation patterns in the song nuclei may underlie song learning in developing male zebra finches. PMID:26369722

  11. Experimental exposure to urban and pink noise affects brain development and song learning in zebra finches (Taenopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Potvin, Dominique A; Curcio, Michael T; Swaddle, John P; MacDougall-Shackleton, Scott A

    2016-01-01

    Recently, numerous studies have observed changes in bird vocalizations-especially song-in urban habitats. These changes are often interpreted as adaptive, since they increase the active space of the signal in its environment. However, the proximate mechanisms driving cross-generational changes in song are still unknown. We performed a captive experiment to identify whether noise experienced during development affects song learning and the development of song-control brain regions. Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) were bred while exposed, or not exposed, to recorded traffic urban noise (Study 1) or pink noise (Study 2). We recorded the songs of male offspring and compared these to fathers' songs. We also measured baseline corticosterone and measured the size of song-control brain regions when the males reached adulthood (Study 1 only). While male zebra finches tended to copy syllables accurately from tutors regardless of noise environment, syntax (the ordering of syllables within songs) was incorrectly copied affected by juveniles exposed to noise. Noise did not affect baseline corticosterone, but did affect the size of brain regions associated with song learning: these regions were smaller in males that had been had been exposed to recorded traffic urban noise in early development. These findings provide a possible mechanism by which noise affects behaviour, leading to potential population differences between wild animals occupying noisier urban environments compared with those in quieter habitats. PMID:27602270

  12. Experimental exposure to urban and pink noise affects brain development and song learning in zebra finches (Taenopygia guttata)

    PubMed Central

    Curcio, Michael T.; Swaddle, John P.; MacDougall-Shackleton, Scott A.

    2016-01-01

    Recently, numerous studies have observed changes in bird vocalizations—especially song—in urban habitats. These changes are often interpreted as adaptive, since they increase the active space of the signal in its environment. However, the proximate mechanisms driving cross-generational changes in song are still unknown. We performed a captive experiment to identify whether noise experienced during development affects song learning and the development of song-control brain regions. Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) were bred while exposed, or not exposed, to recorded traffic urban noise (Study 1) or pink noise (Study 2). We recorded the songs of male offspring and compared these to fathers’ songs. We also measured baseline corticosterone and measured the size of song-control brain regions when the males reached adulthood (Study 1 only). While male zebra finches tended to copy syllables accurately from tutors regardless of noise environment, syntax (the ordering of syllables within songs) was incorrectly copied affected by juveniles exposed to noise. Noise did not affect baseline corticosterone, but did affect the size of brain regions associated with song learning: these regions were smaller in males that had been had been exposed to recorded traffic urban noise in early development. These findings provide a possible mechanism by which noise affects behaviour, leading to potential population differences between wild animals occupying noisier urban environments compared with those in quieter habitats. PMID:27602270

  13. The development of stimulus-specific auditory responses requires song exposure in male but not female zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Maul, Kristen K.; Voss, Henning U.; Parra, Lucas C.; Salgado-Commissariat, Delanthi; Ballon, Douglas; Tchernichovski, Ofer; Helekar, Santosh A.

    2013-01-01

    Juvenile male zebra finches develop their song by imitation. Females do not sing but are attracted to males' songs. With functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Event Related Potentials (ERPs) we tested how early auditory experience shapes responses in the auditory forebrain of the adult bird. Adult male birds kept in isolation over the sensitive period for song learning showed no consistency in auditory responses to conspecific songs, calls, and syllables. Thirty seconds of song playback each day over development, which is sufficient to induce song imitation, was also sufficient to shape stimulus-specific responses. Strikingly, adult females kept in isolation over development showed responses similar to those of males that were exposed to songs. We suggest that early auditory experience with songs may be required to tune perception towards conspecific songs in males, whereas in females song selectivity develops even without prior exposure to song. PMID:19937773

  14. Female Zebra Finches Smell Their Eggs.

    PubMed

    Golüke, Sarah; Dörrenberg, Sebastian; Krause, E Tobias; Caspers, Barbara A

    2016-01-01

    Parental investment in unrelated offspring seems maladaptive from an evolutionary perspective, due to the costs of energy and resources that cannot be invested in related offspring at the same time. Therefore selection should favour mechanisms to discriminate between own and foreign offspring. In birds, much emphasis has been placed on understanding the visual mechanisms underlying egg recognition. However, olfactory egg recognition has almost been completely ignored. Here, we investigated whether female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are able to discriminate between their own and a conspecific egg based on olfactory cues alone. Zebra finches are colonial-breeding songbirds. Eggs are monomorphic, i.e. without any spotting pattern, and intraspecific brood parasitism frequently occurs. In a binary choice experiment, female zebra finches were given the choice between the scent of their own and a conspecific egg. After the onset of incubation, females chose randomly and showed no sign of discrimination. However, shortly before hatching, females preferred significantly the odour of their own egg. The finding that females are capable to smell their own egg may inspire more research on the potential of olfaction involved in egg recognition, especially in cases where visual cues might be limited. PMID:27192061

  15. Female Zebra Finches Smell Their Eggs

    PubMed Central

    Golüke, Sarah; Dörrenberg, Sebastian; Krause, E. Tobias; Caspers, Barbara A.

    2016-01-01

    Parental investment in unrelated offspring seems maladaptive from an evolutionary perspective, due to the costs of energy and resources that cannot be invested in related offspring at the same time. Therefore selection should favour mechanisms to discriminate between own and foreign offspring. In birds, much emphasis has been placed on understanding the visual mechanisms underlying egg recognition. However, olfactory egg recognition has almost been completely ignored. Here, we investigated whether female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are able to discriminate between their own and a conspecific egg based on olfactory cues alone. Zebra finches are colonial—breeding songbirds. Eggs are monomorphic, i.e. without any spotting pattern, and intraspecific brood parasitism frequently occurs. In a binary choice experiment, female zebra finches were given the choice between the scent of their own and a conspecific egg. After the onset of incubation, females chose randomly and showed no sign of discrimination. However, shortly before hatching, females preferred significantly the odour of their own egg. The finding that females are capable to smell their own egg may inspire more research on the potential of olfaction involved in egg recognition, especially in cases where visual cues might be limited. PMID:27192061

  16. Inhibition of TrkB limits development of the zebra finch song system.

    PubMed

    Beach, Linda Qi; Tang, Yu Ping; Kerver, Halie; Wade, Juli

    2016-07-01

    Large sexual dimorphisms exist in the zebra finch song system. Masculinization may be mediated by both estradiol and expression of one or more Z-genes (males: ZZ; females: ZW). Roles of the Z-gene tyrosine kinase B (TrkB) in HVC in masculinizing both HVC and one of its targets the robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA), were tested using siRNA administration in juvenile males at two ages (post-hatching days 15-17 or 25-27). Birds were euthanized 10 days later. Potential interactions or additive effects with estradiol were evaluated by treating males with the estrogen synthesis inhibitor fadrozole. Females treated with estradiol were also exposed to the siRNA at the later age. Local inhibition of TrkB in males of both ages reduced the volume of HVC, an effect due to a change in cell number and not cell size. In the older males, in which the treatment spanned the period when the projection from HVC to RA grows, TrkB inhibition reduced the volume of RA and the relative number of cells within it. TrkB siRNA in HVC decreased the volume of and soma size in the RA of females, and the projection from HVC to RA in both sexes. Estradiol in females masculinized various aspects of the song system, and its effect in masculinizing the volume of RA was decreased by TrkB inhibition. However, effects of fadrozole in males were limited. The data indicate that TrkB is involved in masculinizing the song system, but for most measures it probably does not work in concert with E2. PMID:27086969

  17. Factors limiting song acquisition in adult zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Funabiki, Yasuko; Funabiki, Kazuo

    2009-09-15

    Song learning takes place in two separate or partially overlapping periods, a sensory phase in which a tutor song is memorized and a sensorimotor phase in which a copy of the model is produced. The stage of song development where song becomes stable and stereotyped is called crystallization. Adult birds usually do not learn new song in many species including the zebra finch. However, it is not known whether song crystallization as such or aging impedes adult learning. Exposure to loud noises prevents birds from developing and crystallizing their song, because they cannot control their voice by auditory feedback. Zebra finches even without previous experience of hearing or singing a song failed to learn a song model provided in adulthood. Thus, neither the absence of a tutor song nor the lack of song crystallization enables new song learning in adulthood, but age per se limits the ability or motivation to learn song. PMID:19623623

  18. Vocal Tract Articulation in Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Ohms, Verena R.; Snelderwaard, Peter Ch.; ten Cate, Carel; Beckers, Gabriël J. L.

    2010-01-01

    Background Birdsong and human vocal communication are both complex behaviours which show striking similarities mainly thought to be present in the area of development and learning. Recent studies, however, suggest that there are also parallels in vocal production mechanisms. While it has been long thought that vocal tract filtering, as it occurs in human speech, only plays a minor role in birdsong there is an increasing number of studies indicating the presence of sound filtering mechanisms in bird vocalizations as well. Methodology/Principal Findings Correlating high-speed X-ray cinematographic imaging of singing zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to song structures we identified beak gape and the expansion of the oropharyngeal-esophageal cavity (OEC) as potential articulators. We subsequently manipulated both structures in an experiment in which we played sound through the vocal tract of dead birds. Comparing acoustic input with acoustic output showed that OEC expansion causes an energy shift towards lower frequencies and an amplitude increase whereas a wide beak gape emphasizes frequencies around 5 kilohertz and above. Conclusion These findings confirm that birds can modulate their song by using vocal tract filtering and demonstrate how OEC and beak gape contribute to this modulation. PMID:20689831

  19. No Trade-Offs between Lipid Stores and Structural Growth in Juvenile Zebra Finches Undergoing Nutritional Stress during Development.

    PubMed

    Kriengwatana, Buddhamas; MacDougall-Shackleton, Scott A

    2015-01-01

    Nutritional conditions during development can affect both structural growth and body fat deposition. Body size and body fat each have significant consequences for fitness, yet few studies have investigated how young birds balance resource allocation between structural growth and fat reserves. We raised zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) in consistently high- or low-food conditions until posthatch day 35 (PHD 35). From this age until PHD 62, half of the birds in each condition were switched to the other treatment, while the rest were maintained on the same conditions. Body mass, lean mass, body fat, and tarsus length were measured before (PHD 25) and after (PHD 55) nutritional independence. Precise measures of body composition were obtained noninvasively at both ages using quantitative magnetic resonance analysis. At PHD 25, birds in the high treatment had more body mass and lean mass than birds in the low treatment, but nutritional treatments did not affect body fat at this age. Unexpectedly, the strategic response of birds that experienced deteriorating food availability was to maintain body mass by increasing body fat and decreasing lean mass. Birds that experienced an improvement in food availability significantly increased body mass by increasing lean mass and not body fat. Birds maintained on a low diet throughout did not significantly increase body mass, lean mass, or body fat. Tarsus length was not affected by nutritional manipulations. These findings indicate that nutritional stress did not affect the relationship between skeletal growth and body fat deposition because lean mass, body fat, and tarsus length can be independently regulated at different developmental periods depending on nutritional conditions. PMID:25730275

  20. Song Recognition in Zebra Finches: Are There Sensitive Periods for Song Memorization?

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Braaten, Richard F.

    2010-01-01

    Male zebra finches learn to sing songs that they hear between 25 and 65 days of age, the sensitive period for song learning. In this experiment, male and female zebra finches were exposed to zebra finch songs either before (n = 9) or during (n = 4) the sensitive period. Following song exposure, recognition memory for the songs was assessed with an…

  1. Mechanisms of copying behaviour in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Guillette, Lauren M; Healy, Susan D

    2014-10-01

    When an individual is faced with choosing between unfamiliar food options, it may benefit initially by choosing the option chosen by other animals so avoiding potentially poisonous food. It is not clear which cues the naïve forager learns from the demonstrator for choosing between food options. To determine firstly which birds (zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata) would copy a demonstrator's choice, in Experiment 1 we presented each observer with a demonstrator feeding from one of two differently coloured feeders and then tested the observer's feeder colour preference. Of the same-sex/mixed-sex demonstrator-observer pairs tested only females copied male demonstrators. In Experiment 2, birds did not prefer either feeder colour in the absence of demonstrators confirming the social learning effect observed in Experiment 1. In Experiment 3, copying females fed significantly more at the feeder of the demonstrated colour, rather than at the location of the demonstrated feeder. These data point not just to the identity of the individual to be copied but also to the kind of information learned. PMID:25444776

  2. Late-Postnatal Cannabinoid Exposure Persistently Increases FoxP2 Expression within Zebra Finch Striatum

    PubMed Central

    Soderstrom, Ken; Luo, Bin

    2010-01-01

    Prior work has shown that cannabinoid exposure of zebra finches during sensorimotor stages of vocal development alters song patterns produced in adulthood. We are currently working to identify physiological substrates for this altered song learning. FoxP2 is a transcription factor associated with altered vocal development in both zebra finches and humans. This protein shows a distinct pattern of expression within Area X of striatum that coincides with peak expression of CB1 cannabinoid receptors during sensorimotor learning. Coincident expression in a brain region essential for song learning led us to test for a potential signaling interaction. We have found that cannabinoid agonists acutely increase expression of FoxP2 throughout striatum. When administered during sensorimotor song learning, cannabinoids increase basal levels of striatal FoxP2 expression in adulthood. Thus, song-altering cannabinoid treatments are associated with persistent increases in basal expression of FoxP2 in zebra finch striatum. PMID:20017118

  3. Proper Care, Husbandry, and Breeding Guidelines for the Zebra Finch, Taeniopygia guttata

    PubMed Central

    Olson, Christopher R.; Wirthlin, Morgan; Lovell, Peter V.; Mello, Claudio V.

    2015-01-01

    The zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata castanotis is a songbird commonly used in the laboratory, particularly for studies of vocal learning, neurobiology, and physiology. Within the laboratory, it is important to adopt careful husbandry practices that allow for normal development of the birds. For example, their song is a learned trait, passed culturally from adult males to juveniles, and thus its learning can be influenced by the health and social conditions of the birds present in the laboratory. Here we present guidelines for the successful maintenance and breeding of captive zebra finches. PMID:25342067

  4. Proper care, husbandry, and breeding guidelines for the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata.

    PubMed

    Olson, Christopher R; Wirthlin, Morgan; Lovell, Peter V; Mello, Claudio V

    2014-12-01

    The zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata castanotis is a songbird commonly used in the laboratory, particularly for studies of vocal learning, neurobiology, and physiology. Within the laboratory, it is important to adopt careful husbandry practices that allow for normal development of the birds. For example, their song is a learned trait, passed culturally from adult males to juveniles, and thus its learning can be influenced by the health and social conditions of the birds present in the laboratory. Here we present guidelines for the successful maintenance and breeding of captive zebra finches. PMID:25342067

  5. Complete genome sequence of a novel circovirus from zebra finch.

    PubMed

    Rinder, Monika; Schmitz, Anna; Peschel, Andrea; Korbel, Rüdiger

    2015-01-01

    A novel circovirus was identified in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). The genome of the circovirus strain, designated 8454V25-1, comprised 1,982 nucleotides with two major open reading frames encoding a replication-associated protein and a viral capsid protein. PMID:26021933

  6. Using Digital Images of the Zebra Finch Song System as a Tool to Teach Organizational Effects of Steroid Hormones: A Free Downloadable Module

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Grisham, William; Schottler, Natalie A.; Beck McCauley, Lisa M.; Pham, Anh P.; Ruiz, Maureen L.; Fong, Michelle C.; Cui, Xinran

    2011-01-01

    Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not. The neural system underlying this behavior is sexually dimorphic, and this sex difference is easy to quantify. During development, the zebra finch song system can be altered by steroid hormones, specifically estradiol, which actually masculinizes it. Because of the…

  7. The Quantitative Ethology of the Zebra Finch: A Study in Comparative Psychometrics.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Figueredo, Aurelio Jose; And Others

    1992-01-01

    A quantitative ethogram was developed for the zebra finch, using one-zero focal animal sampling on an ethologically comprehensive checklist of 52 behavioral items, and it was assessed for interobserver reliability and construct validity. Applying the quantitative methods of psychometrics allows verification of ethological theory and testing of…

  8. Effects of the bioaccumulative polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardant congener BDE-47 on growth, development, and reproductive success in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Currier, Heidi A; Letcher, Robert J; Williams, Tony D; Elliott, John E

    2015-02-01

    This study investigated the effects of the polybrominated diphenyl ether congener, 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) on the growth and development, and subsequent breeding success of exposed zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Using oral dosing procedures and treatments adjusted by weight, we treated newly hatched chicks daily for the first 20-days-post-hatch (dph) with varying treatments of BDE-47 (0, 5, 50, and 500 ng/g bw/day). Weight and tarsal measurements were monitored from hatch to 90 dph, but no differences were observed between treatment groups at any age. Treated females that reached sexual maturity were mated with untreated males; however, again no treatment effects were observed on breeding success. Analysis of tissue samples at 21 dph did indicate that debromination of BDE-47 had occurred resulting in BDE-28 and BDE-17 metabolites. PMID:25283367

  9. Ontogeny of Adaptive Antibody Response to a Model Antigen in Captive Altricial Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Killpack, Tess L.; Karasov, William H.

    2012-01-01

    Based on studies from the poultry literature, all birds are hypothesized to require at least 4 weeks to develop circulating mature B-cell lineages that express functionally different immunoglobulin specificities. However, many altricial passerines fledge at adult size less than four weeks after the start of embryonic development, and therefore may experience a period of susceptibility during the nestling and post-fledging periods. We present the first study, to our knowledge, to detail the age-related changes in adaptive antibody response in an altricial passerine. Using repeated vaccinations with non-infectious keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) antigen, we studied the ontogeny of specific adaptive immune response in altricial zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata. Nestling zebra finches were first injected at 7 days (7d), 14 days (14d), or 21 days post-hatch (21d) with KLH-adjuvant emulsions, and boosted 7 days later. Adults were vaccinated in the same manner. Induced KLH-specific IgY antibodies were measured using ELISA. Comparisons within age groups revealed no significant increase in KLH-specific antibody levels between vaccination and boost in 7d birds, yet significant increases between vaccination and boost were observed in 14d, 21d, and adult groups. There was no significant difference among age groups in KLH antibody response to priming vaccination, yet KLH antibody response post-boost significantly increased with age among groups. Post-boost antibody response in all nestling age groups was significantly lower than in adults, indicating that mature adult secondary antibody response level was not achieved in zebra finches prior to fledging (21 days post-hatch in zebra finches). Findings from this study contribute fundamental knowledge to the fields of developmental immunology and ecological immunology and strengthen the utility of zebra finches as a model organism for future studies of immune ontogeny. PMID:23056621

  10. Syllable chunking in zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) song.

    PubMed

    Williams, H; Staples, K

    1992-09-01

    We examined how 61 young zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) males copied song from 5 adult tutors. Zebra finch song consists of a string of 5-15 distinct syllables, and these syllables were copied as chunks, or strings of consecutive syllables (modal length = 3). The silent interval between 2 syllables was copied as part of the syllable after the silence. Copied chunks had boundaries that fell at consistent locations within the tutor's song, marked by a relatively long intersyllable silent period, a transition between call-like and noncall-like syllables, and a tendency for the tutor male to stop his song short. Young males also tended to break their songs off at the boundaries of the chunks they had copied. Chunks appear to be an intermediate level of hierarchy in song organization and to have both perceptual (syllables were learned as part of a chunk) and motor (song delivery was broken almost exclusively at chunk boundaries) aspects. PMID:1395497

  11. Heterospecific discrimination of Poecile vocalizations by zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Guillette, Lauren M; Hoeschele, Marisa; Hahn, Allison H; Sturdy, Christopher B

    2013-08-01

    Previous perceptual research with black-capped and mountain chickadees has demonstrated that the D note of the namesake chick-a-dee call controlled species-based discrimination compared to other note types in this call. In the current experiment, we sought to determine whether discrimination performance of the chickadees was controlled by stimulus-specific properties or due to learning through experience. To accomplish this, we tested zebra finches, a songbird species that is distantly related to chickadees, and also unfamiliar with black-capped and mountain chickadee vocalizations, on the same species-based discrimination on which black-capped and mountain chickadees were previously trained. We found that zebra finches learned the discrimination in the fewest number of trials with the D note, compared to other note types (i.e., the A, B, and C notes). In addition, we compared the current results to earlier work and found that zebra finches learned the discrimination in fewer trials compared to black-capped chickadees, and, across all species, males learned the discrimination in fewer trials than females. We discuss the roles that acoustic complexity and learning play in classification of the three species of songbirds tested. More generally, these results point to the benefits derived from testing members of each sex in species that vary in their natural history, vocal output, and phylogenetic relatedness as a means to uncover the mechanisms underlying acoustic communication. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved). PMID:23106805

  12. Do Zebra Finch Parents Fail to Recognise Their Own Offspring?

    PubMed Central

    Reers, Hendrik; Jacot, Alain; Forstmeier, Wolfgang

    2011-01-01

    Individual recognition systems require the sender to be individually distinctive and the receiver to be able to perceive differences between individuals and react accordingly. Many studies have demonstrated that acoustic signals of almost any species contain individualized information. However, fewer studies have tested experimentally if those signals are used for individual recognition by potential receivers. While laboratory studies using zebra finches have shown that fledglings recognize their parents by their “distance call”, mutual recognition using the same call type has not been demonstrated yet. In a laboratory study with zebra finches, we first quantified between-individual acoustic variation in distance calls of fledglings. In a second step, we tested recognition of fledgling calls by parents using playback experiments. With a discriminant function analysis, we show that individuals are highly distinctive and most measured parameters show very high potential to encode for individuality. The response pattern of zebra finch parents shows that they do react to calls of fledglings, however they do not distinguish between own and unfamiliar offspring, despite individual distinctiveness. This finding is interesting in light of the observation of a high percentage of misdirected feedings in our communal breeding aviaries. Our results demonstrate the importance of adopting a receiver's perspective and suggest that variation in fledgling contact calls might not be used in individual recognition of offspring. PMID:21533233

  13. A retrospective study of disease and mortality in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Prattis, S M; Cioffee, C J; Reinhard, G; Zaoutis, T E

    1990-07-01

    Few published reports exist describing morbidity and mortality in domestic zebra finch colonies maintained in a laboratory animal setting. A retrospective study of clinical disease and mortality in quarantined adult zebra finches was performed. Animals were observed during the 2 week quarantine period and for at least 1 month afterwards (42 days). Signs of disease, including feather and beak abnormalities, oculonasal discharge, increased respiratory rate or stridor, abdominal enlargement, pasty vent, diarrhea, lameness and pectoral muscle loss, were evaluated in our colony during this time. History, physical examination, laboratory testing and postmortem evaluation were used to determine causes of clinical disease. Common clinical findings in sick finches included sudden death, ruffled feathers, increased respiratory rate or gape mouthed breathing, pasty vent or frank diarrhea, and beak discoloration. Organisms frequently isolated were Staphylococcus spp., E. coli, Enterobacter spp., and Coccidia spp. Of the finches that died while in the colony (29.5%), 23.0% died in the first week after arrival. Pathogens frequently isolated from tissues cultured at necropsy included: E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter spp., and Candida albicans. When observed, pathological lesions consisted of air sacculitis, fibrinopurulent polyserositis and ventriculitis. PMID:2166869

  14. Exploring the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata as a novel animal model for the speech-language deficit of fragile X syndrome

    PubMed Central

    Winograd, C; Ceman, S

    2015-01-01

    Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability and presents with markedly atypical speech-language, likely due to impaired vocal learning. Although current models have been useful for studies of some aspects of FXS, zebra finch is the only tractable lab model for vocal learning. The neural circuits for vocal learning in the zebra finch have clear relationships to the pathways in the human brain that may be affected in FXS. Further, finch vocal learning may be quantified using software designed specifically for this purpose. Knockdown of the zebra finch FMR1 gene may ultimately enable novel tests of therapies that are modality-specific, using drugs or even social strategies, to ameliorate deficits in vocal development and function. In this chapter, we describe the utility of the zebra finch model and present a hypothesis for the role of FMRP in the developing neural circuitry for vocalization. PMID:22009353

  15. Drinking Songs: Alcohol Effects on Learned Song of Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Olson, Christopher R.; Owen, Devin C.; Ryabinin, Andrey E.; Mello, Claudio V.

    2014-01-01

    Speech impairment is one of the most intriguing and least understood effects of alcohol on cognitive function, largely due to the lack of data on alcohol effects on vocalizations in the context of an appropriate experimental model organism. Zebra finches, a representative songbird and a premier model for understanding the neurobiology of vocal production and learning, learn song in a manner analogous to how humans learn speech. Here we show that when allowed access, finches readily drink alcohol, increase their blood ethanol concentrations (BEC) significantly, and sing a song with altered acoustic structure. The most pronounced effects were decreased amplitude and increased entropy, the latter likely reflecting a disruption in the birds’ ability to maintain the spectral structure of song under alcohol. Furthermore, specific syllables, which have distinct acoustic structures, were differentially influenced by alcohol, likely reflecting a diversity in the neural mechanisms required for their production. Remarkably, these effects on vocalizations occurred without overt effects on general behavioral measures, and importantly, they occurred within a range of BEC that can be considered risky for humans. Our results suggest that the variable effects of alcohol on finch song reflect differential alcohol sensitivity of the brain circuitry elements that control different aspects of song production. They also point to finches as an informative model for understanding how alcohol affects the neuronal circuits that control the production of learned motor behaviors. PMID:25536524

  16. Parental influence on begging call structure in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata): evidence of early vocal plasticity.

    PubMed

    Villain, Avelyne S; Boucaud, Ingrid C A; Bouchut, Colette; Vignal, Clémentine

    2015-11-01

    Begging calls are signals of need used by young birds to elicit care from adults. Different theoretical frameworks have been proposed to understand this parent-offspring communication. But relationships between parental response and begging intensity, or between begging characteristics and proxies of a young's need remain puzzling. Few studies have considered the adjustment of nestling begging features to previous experience as a possible explanation of these discrepancies. In this study, we tested the effect of a heterospecific rearing environment on individual developmental trajectories of the acoustic structure of nestling begging calls. Fifty-two zebra finch chicks were fostered either to Bengalese finch or to zebra finch parents, and begging calls were recorded at several stages of nestling development. Acoustic analyses revealed that the development of the spectral features of the begging calls differed between experimental conditions: chicks reared by Bengalese finches produced higher pitched and less broadband begging calls than chicks reared by conspecific parents. Differences were stronger in males than females and were not explained by differences in growth rate. We conclude that nestling begging calls can be plastic in response to social interactions with parents. PMID:26716009

  17. Parental influence on begging call structure in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata): evidence of early vocal plasticity

    PubMed Central

    Villain, Avelyne S.; Boucaud, Ingrid C. A.; Bouchut, Colette; Vignal, Clémentine

    2015-01-01

    Begging calls are signals of need used by young birds to elicit care from adults. Different theoretical frameworks have been proposed to understand this parent–offspring communication. But relationships between parental response and begging intensity, or between begging characteristics and proxies of a young’s need remain puzzling. Few studies have considered the adjustment of nestling begging features to previous experience as a possible explanation of these discrepancies. In this study, we tested the effect of a heterospecific rearing environment on individual developmental trajectories of the acoustic structure of nestling begging calls. Fifty-two zebra finch chicks were fostered either to Bengalese finch or to zebra finch parents, and begging calls were recorded at several stages of nestling development. Acoustic analyses revealed that the development of the spectral features of the begging calls differed between experimental conditions: chicks reared by Bengalese finches produced higher pitched and less broadband begging calls than chicks reared by conspecific parents. Differences were stronger in males than females and were not explained by differences in growth rate. We conclude that nestling begging calls can be plastic in response to social interactions with parents. PMID:26716009

  18. Noninvasive diffusive optical imaging of the auditory response to birdsong in the zebra finch.

    PubMed

    Lee, James V; Maclin, Edward L; Low, Kathy A; Gratton, Gabriele; Fabiani, Monica; Clayton, David F

    2013-03-01

    Songbirds communicate by learned vocalizations with concomitant changes in neurophysiological and genomic activities in discrete parts of the brain. Here, we tested a novel implementation of diffusive optical imaging (also known as diffuse optical imaging, DOI) for monitoring brain physiology associated with vocal signal perception. DOI noninvasively measures brain activity using red and near-infrared light delivered through optic fibers (optodes) resting on the scalp. DOI does not harm subjects, so it raises the possibility of repeatedly measuring brain activity and the effects of accumulated experience in the same subject over an entire life span, all while leaving tissue intact for further study. We developed a custom-made apparatus for interfacing optodes to the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) head using 3D modeling software and rapid prototyping technology, and applied it to record responses to presentations of birdsong in isoflurane-anesthetized zebra finches. We discovered a subtle but significant difference between the hemoglobin spectra of zebra finches and mammals which has a major impact in how hemodynamic responses are interpreted in the zebra finch. Our measured responses to birdsong playback were robust, highly repeatable, and readily observed in single trials. Responses were complex in shape and closely paralleled responses described in mammals. They were localized to the caudal medial portion of the brain, consistent with response localization from prior gene expression, electrophysiological, and functional magnetic resonance imaging studies. These results define an approach for collecting neurophysiological data from songbirds that should be applicable to diverse species and adaptable for studies in awake behaving animals. PMID:23322445

  19. The acoustic effect of vocal tract adjustments in zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Riede, Tobias; Schilling, Nadja; Goller, Franz

    2012-01-01

    Vocal production in songbirds requires the control of the respiratory system, the syrinx as sound source and the vocal tract as acoustic filter. Vocal tract movements consist of beak, tongue and hyoid movements which change the volume of the oropharyngeal-esophageal cavity (OEC), glottal movements and tracheal length changes. The respective contributions of each movement to filter properties are not completely understood, but the effects of this filtering are thought to be very important for acoustic communication in birds. One of the most striking movements of the upper vocal tract during vocal behavior in songbirds involves the OEC. This study measured the acoustic effect of OEC adjustments in zebra finches by comparing resonance acoustics between an utterance with OEC expansion (calls) and a similar utterance without OEC expansion (respiratory sounds induced by a bilateral syringeal denervation). X-ray cineradiography confirmed the presence of an OEC motor pattern during song and call production, and a custom-built Hall-effect collar system confirmed that OEC expansion movements were not present during respiratory sounds. The spectral emphasis during zebra finch call production ranging between 2.5 and 5 kHz was not present during respiratory sounds, indicating strongly that it can be attributed to the OEC expansion. PMID:23085986

  20. Zebra finches are able to learn affixation-like patterns.

    PubMed

    Chen, Jiani; Jansen, Naomi; ten Cate, Carel

    2016-01-01

    Adding an affix to transform a word is common across the world languages, with the edges of words more likely to carry out such a function. However, detecting affixation patterns is also observed in learning tasks outside the domain of language, suggesting that the underlying mechanism from which affixation patterns have arisen may not be language or even human specific. We addressed whether a songbird, the zebra finch, is able to discriminate between, and generalize, affixation-like patterns. Zebra finches were trained and tested in a Go/Nogo paradigm to discriminate artificial song element sequences resembling prefixed and suffixed 'words.' The 'stems' of the 'words,' consisted of different combinations of a triplet of song elements, to which a fourth element was added as either a 'prefix' or a 'suffix.' After training, the birds were tested with novel stems, consisting of either rearranged familiar element types or novel element types. The birds were able to generalize the affixation patterns to novel stems with both familiar and novel element types. Hence, the discrimination resulting from the training was not based on memorization of individual stimuli, but on a shared property among Go or Nogo stimuli, i.e., affixation patterns. Remarkably, birds trained with suffixation as Go pattern showed clear evidence of using both prefix and suffix, while those trained with the prefix as the Go stimulus used primarily the prefix. This finding illustrates that an asymmetry in attending to different affixations is not restricted to human languages. PMID:26297477

  1. The acoustic effect of vocal tract adjustments in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Riede, Tobias; Schilling, Nadja; Goller, Franz

    2013-01-01

    Vocal production in songbirds requires the control of the respiratory system, the syrinx as sound source and the vocal tract as acoustic filter. Vocal tract movements consist of beak, tongue and hyoid movements, which change the volume of the oropharyngeal-esophageal cavity (OEC), glottal movements and tracheal length changes. The respective contributions of each movement to filter properties are not completely understood, but the effects of this filtering are thought to be very important for acoustic communication in birds. One of the most striking movements of the upper vocal tract during vocal behavior in songbirds involves the OEC. This study measured the acoustic effect of OEC adjustments in zebra finches by comparing resonance acoustics between an utterance with OEC expansion (calls) and a similar utterance without OEC expansion (respiratory sounds induced by a bilateral syringeal denervation). X-ray cineradiography confirmed the presence of an OEC motor pattern during song and call production, and a custom-built Hall-effect collar system confirmed that OEC expansion movements were not present during respiratory sounds. The spectral emphasis during zebra finch call production ranging between 2.5 and 5 kHz was not present during respiratory sounds, indicating strongly that it can be attributed to the OEC expansion. PMID:23085986

  2. Developmental stress increases reproductive success in male zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Crino, Ondi L; Prather, Colin T; Driscoll, Stephanie C; Good, Jeffrey M; Breuner, Creagh W

    2014-11-22

    There is increasing evidence that exposure to stress during development can have sustained effects on animal phenotype and performance across life-history stages. For example, developmental stress has been shown to decrease the quality of sexually selected traits (e.g. bird song), and therefore is thought to decrease reproductive success. However, animals exposed to developmental stress may compensate for poor quality sexually selected traits by pursuing alternative reproductive tactics. Here, we examine the effects of developmental stress on adult male reproductive investment and success in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). We tested the hypothesis that males exposed to developmental stress sire fewer offspring through extra-pair copulations (EPCs), but invest more in parental care. To test this hypothesis, we fed nestlings corticosterone (CORT; the dominant avian stress hormone) during the nestling period and measured their adult reproductive success using common garden breeding experiments. We found that nestlings reared by CORT-fed fathers received more parental care compared with nestlings reared by control fathers. Consequently, males fed CORT during development reared nestlings in better condition compared with control males. Contrary to the prediction that developmental stress decreases male reproductive success, we found that CORT-fed males also sired more offspring and were less likely to rear non-genetic offspring compared with control males, and thus had greater overall reproductive success. These data are the first to demonstrate that developmental stress can have a positive effect on fitness via changes in reproductive success and provide support for an adaptive role of developmental stress in shaping animal phenotype. PMID:25297860

  3. "Bird Song Metronomics": Isochronous Organization of Zebra Finch Song Rhythm.

    PubMed

    Norton, Philipp; Scharff, Constance

    2016-01-01

    The human capacity for speech and vocal music depends on vocal imitation. Songbirds, in contrast to non-human primates, share this vocal production learning with humans. The process through which birds and humans learn many of their vocalizations as well as the underlying neural system exhibit a number of striking parallels and have been widely researched. In contrast, rhythm, a key feature of language, and music, has received surprisingly little attention in songbirds. Investigating temporal periodicity in bird song has the potential to inform the relationship between neural mechanisms and behavioral output and can also provide insight into the biology and evolution of musicality. Here we present a method to analyze birdsong for an underlying rhythmic regularity. Using the intervals from one note onset to the next as input, we found for each bird an isochronous sequence of time stamps, a "signal-derived pulse," or pulse(S), of which a subset aligned with all note onsets of the bird's song. Fourier analysis corroborated these results. To determine whether this finding was just a byproduct of the duration of notes and intervals typical for zebra finches but not dependent on the individual duration of elements and the sequence in which they are sung, we compared natural songs to models of artificial songs. Note onsets of natural song deviated from the pulse(S) significantly less than those of artificial songs with randomized note and gap durations. Thus, male zebra finch song has the regularity required for a listener to extract a perceived pulse (pulse(P)), as yet untested. Strikingly, in our study, pulses(S) that best fit note onsets often also coincided with the transitions between sub-note elements within complex notes, corresponding to neuromuscular gestures. Gesture durations often equaled one or more pulse(S) periods. This suggests that gesture duration constitutes the basic element of the temporal hierarchy of zebra finch song rhythm, an interesting parallel

  4. Adverse effects of fipronil on avian reproduction and development: maternal transfer of fipronil to eggs in zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata and in ovo exposure in chickens Gallus domesticus.

    PubMed

    Kitulagodage, Malsha; Buttemer, William A; Astheimer, Lee B

    2011-06-01

    Two studies were carried out to examine the impact of maternal fipronil exposure on embryonic and offspring development. In the first study, breeding female zebra finches were orally dosed with single sublethal levels of fipronil (1, 5, and 10 mg/kg body weight) to determine behavioural and developmental consequences on chicks following maternal pesticide exposure. Significant levels of fipronil and fipronil-sulfone residues were detected in eggs laid by females in all dosed groups, however, these were undetectable in eggs laid 13 days after treatment. The level of sulfone detected in eggs was consistently higher than that of the parent fipronil compound. Of the seven eggs laid in the treatment groups, only one (14%) chick hatched and this was from the lowest dose group. This chick was severely underdeveloped at 10 days of age in comparison to control chicks and fiproles were detected in brain, liver, and adipose tissues collected following euthanasia of this individual. In contrast, there was 100% hatchability of control group eggs and all chicks fledged nests on schedule. In the second study, domestic chicken eggs were injected with 5.5, 17.5, and 37.5 mg/kg egg weight of fipronil directly into the yolk sac on day 12 of incubation. Treatment did not affect hatching success, however, behavioural and developmental abnormalities were observed in hatchlings from the highest dose group. These chicks also demonstrated reduced feeding rates, as indicated by reduced body mass at 48 h period post hatch. Both fipronil and fipronil-sulfone residues were detected in brain and liver tissue of hatchlings at all pesticide dose levels tested. PMID:21327488

  5. Anatomical plasticity in the adult Zebra Finch song system

    PubMed Central

    McDonald, Kathryn S.; Kirn, John R.

    2012-01-01

    In many songbirds, vocal learning-related cellular plasticity was thought to end following a developmental critical period. However, mounting evidence in one such species, the zebra finch, suggests that forms of plasticity common during song learning continue well into adulthood, including a reliance on auditory feedback for song maintenance. This reliance wanes with increasing age, in tandem with age-related increases in fine motor control. We investigated age-related morphological changes in the adult zebra finch song system by focusing on two cortical projection neuron types that a) share a common efferent target, b) are known to exhibit morphological and functional change during song learning, and c) exert opposing influences on song acoustic structure. Neurons in HVC (proper name) and the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium (LMAN) both project to the robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA). During juvenile song learning and adult song maintenance, HVC promotes song syllable stereotypy while LMAN promotes learning and acoustic variability. Following retrograde labeling of these two cell types in adults, there were age-related increases in dendritic arbor in HVC-RA but not LMAN-RA neurons, resulting in an increase in the ratio of HVC-RA:LMAN-RA dendritic arbor. Differential growth of HVC relative to LMAN dendrites may relate to increases in song motor refinement, decreases in the reliance of song on auditory feedback, or both. Despite this differential growth with age, we also show that both cell types retain the capacity for experience-dependent growth. These results may provide insights on mechanisms that promote and constrain adult vocal plasticity. PMID:22473463

  6. Organization and development of zebra finch HVC and paraHVC based on expression of zRalDH, an enzyme associated with retinoic acid production

    PubMed Central

    Olson, Christopher R.; Rodrigues, Paulo Vianney; Jeong, Jin Kwon; Prahl, Daniel J.; Mello, Claudio V.

    2010-01-01

    The zRalDH gene encodes an aldehyde dehydrogenase associated with the conversion of retinaldehyde (the main vitamin A metabolite) into retinoic acid and its expression is highly enriched in the song control system of adult zebra finches (T. gutatta). Within song control nucleus HVC, zRalDH is specifically expressed in the neurons that project to area X of the striatum. It is also expressed in paraHVC, commonly considered a medial extension of HVC that is closely associated with auditory areas in the caudomedial telencephalon. Here we used in situ hybridization to generate a detailed analysis of HVC and paraHVC based on expression of zRalDH for adult zebra finches of both sexes and for males during the song learning period. We demonstrate that the distribution of zRalDH-positive cells can be used for accurate assessments of HVC and paraHVC in adult and juvenile males. We describe marked developmental changes in the numbers of zRalDH-expressing cells in HVC and paraHVC, reaching a peak at day 50 post-hatch, an effect potentially due to dynamic changes in the population of X-projecting cells in HVC. We also show that zRalDH-expressing cells in adult females, although much less numerous than in males, have a surprisingly broad distribution along the medial-to-lateral extent of HVC but are lacking where paraHVC is found in adult males. Our study thus contributes to our understanding of the nuclear organization of the song system and the dynamics of its developmental changes during the song learning period. PMID:21120932

  7. Neuroendocrine regulation of long-term pair maintenance in the monogamous zebra finch.

    PubMed

    Prior, Nora H; Soma, Kiran K

    2015-11-01

    This article is part of a Special Issue "SBN 2014". Understanding affiliative behavior is critical to understanding social organisms. While affiliative behaviors are present across a wide range of taxa and contexts, much of what is known about the neuroendocrine regulation of affiliation comes from studies of pair-bond formation in prairie voles. This leaves at least three gaps in our current knowledge. First, little is known about long-term pair-bond maintenance. Second, few studies have examined non-mammalian systems, even though monogamy is much more common in birds than in mammals. Third, the influence of breeding condition on affiliation is largely unknown. The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) is an excellent model system for examining the neuroendocrine regulation of affiliative behaviors, including the formation and maintenance of a long-term pair bond. Zebra finches form genetically monogamous pair bonds, which they actively maintain throughout the year. The genomic and neuroanatomical resources, combined with the wealth of knowledge on the ecology and ethology of wild zebra finches, give this model system unique advantages to study the neuroendocrine regulation of pair bonding. Here, we review the endocrinology of opportunistic breeding in zebra finches, the sex steroid profiles of breeding and non-breeding zebra finches (domesticated and wild), and the roles of sex steroids and other signaling molecules in pair-maintenance behaviors in the zebra finch and other monogamous species. Studies of zebra finches and other songbirds will be useful for broadly understanding the neuroendocrine regulation of affiliative behaviors, including pair bonding and monogamy. PMID:25935729

  8. Using Digital Images of the Zebra Finch Song System as a Tool to Teach Organizational Effects of Steroid Hormones: A Free Downloadable Module

    PubMed Central

    Grisham, William; Schottler, Natalie A.; McCauley, Lisa M. Beck; Pham, Anh P.; Ruiz, Maureen L.; Fong, Michelle C.; Cui, Xinran

    2011-01-01

    Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not. The neural system underlying this behavior is sexually dimorphic, and this sex difference is easy to quantify. During development, the zebra finch song system can be altered by steroid hormones, specifically estradiol, which actually masculinizes it. Because of the ease of quantification and experimental manipulation, the zebra finch song system has great potential for use in undergraduate labs. Unfortunately, the underlying costs prohibit use of this system in undergraduate labs. Further, the time required to perform a developmental study renders such undertakings unrealistic within a single academic term. We have overcome these barriers by creating digital tools, including an image library of song nuclei from zebra finch brains. Students using this library replicate and extend a published experiment examining the dose of estradiol required to masculinize the female zebra finch brain. We have used this library for several terms, and students not only obtain significant experimental results but also make gains in understanding content, experimental controls, and inferential statistics (analysis of variance and post hoc tests). We have provided free access to these digital tools at the following website: http://mdcune.psych.ucla.edu/modules/birdsong. PMID:21633071

  9. Food preference and copying behaviour in zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata.

    PubMed

    Guillette, Lauren M; Morgan, Kate V; Hall, Zachary J; Bailey, Ida E; Healy, Susan D

    2014-11-01

    As a social species zebra finches might be expected to copy the food choices of more experienced conspecifics. This prediction has been tested previously by presenting observers with two demonstrator birds that differ in some way (e.g., sex, familiarity), each feeding on a different colour food source. However, if the observer subsequently exhibits a preference, it is unclear whether it has copied the choice of one demonstrator or avoided the choice of the other. Furthermore, this choice may actually be influenced by pre-existing preferences, a potential bias that is rarely tested. Here we examine whether apparent copying or avoidance can be explained by pre-existing preferences. In Experiment 1, observers had the opportunity to watch a conspecific forage from one of the two differently coloured food hoppers. In Experiment 2, the observers did not have this opportunity. In both experiments observers were subsequently tested for their food hopper preference and all but one preferred one colour over the other. In Experiment 1 some observers showed evidence for copying, while others seemed to avoid the colour preferred by the demonstrator. In Experiment 2 females generally preferred the white hopper. Pre-existing colour preferences could, therefore, explain the apparent copying/avoidance we observed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Cognition in the wild. PMID:24797456

  10. Presumed Mycobacteriosis in Laboratory Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

    PubMed Central

    Asfaw, Yohannes G; Sun, Francis J

    2010-01-01

    Husbandry staff noticed a research-naïve, young-adult, female finch tossing its head back intermittently. A second finch exhibiting similar signs was reported a few days later. Postmortem necropsy and histopathology with hematoxylin and eosin and acid-fast staining on the first finch revealed the presence of acid-fast organisms in several organs. After presumptive diagnosis of mycobacteriosis, all remaining finches housed in the same room as the first underwent necropsy and histology. Three additional finches were positive for Mycobacterium-like acid-fast organisms. Incidental findings of megabacteriosis were noted histopathologically on 2 other finches. PMID:20858369

  11. The zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata: an avian model for investigating the neurobiological basis of vocal learning.

    PubMed

    Mello, Claudio V

    2014-12-01

    Songbirds are capable of learning their vocalizations by copying a singing adult. This vocal learning ability requires juveniles to hear and memorize the sound of the adult song, and later to imitate it through a process involving sensorimotor integration. Vocal learning is a trait that songbirds share with humans, where it forms the basis of spoken language acquisition, with other avian groups (parrots and hummingbirds), and with a few other mammals (cetaceans, bats). It is however absent in traditional model organisms such as rodents and nonhuman primates. Zebra finches, a songbird species from Australia, are popular pets and are easy to breed. They also sing a relatively simple and stereotyped song that is amenable to quantitative analysis. Zebra finches have thus emerged as a choice model organism for investigating the neurobiological basis of vocal learning. A number of tools and methodologies have been developed to characterize the bioacoustics properties of their song, analyze the degree of accurate copying during vocal learning, map the brain circuits that control singing and song learning, and investigate the physiology of these circuits. Such studies have led to a large base of knowledge on song production and learning, and their underlying neural substrate. Several molecular resources have recently become available, including brain cDNA/EST databases, microarrays, BAC libraries, a molecular brain atlas, a complete genome assembly, and the ability to perform transgenesis. The recent availability of many other avian genomes provides unique opportunities for comparative analysis in the search for features unique to vocal learning organisms. PMID:25342070

  12. Lipid imaging in the zebra finch brain with secondary ion mass spectrometry

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Amaya, Kensey R.; Monroe, Eric B.; Sweedler, Jonathan V.; Clayton, David F.

    2007-02-01

    Lipids have diverse functions in the nervous system, but the study of their anatomical distributions in the intact brain is rather difficult using conventional methodologies. Here we demonstrate the application of high resolution time-of-flight (ToF) secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to image various lipid components and cholesterol across an entire brain section prepared from an adult zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), with a spatial resolution of 2.3 [mu]m, resulting in the formation of 11.5 megapixel chemical images. The zebra finch is a songbird in which specific neural and developmental functions have been ascribed to discrete "song control nuclei" of the forebrain. We have observed a relative increase of palmitic acid C16:0 and oleic acid C18:1 in song control nuclei versus the surrounding tissue, while phosphate (PO3-), representative of phospholipids, was lower in these regions. Cholesterol was present at a high level only in the white matter of the optic tectum. More diffuse distributions were observed for stearic, arachidonic, linolenic, and palmitoleic acids. The presented results illustrate that SIMS imaging is a useful approach for assessing changes in lipid content during song circuit development and song learning.

  13. The perception of regularity in an isochronous stimulus in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) and humans.

    PubMed

    van der Aa, Jeroen; Honing, Henkjan; ten Cate, Carel

    2015-06-01

    Perceiving temporal regularity in an auditory stimulus is considered one of the basic features of musicality. Here we examine whether zebra finches can detect regularity in an isochronous stimulus. Using a go/no go paradigm we show that zebra finches are able to distinguish between an isochronous and an irregular stimulus. However, when the tempo of the isochronous stimulus is changed, it is no longer treated as similar to the training stimulus. Training with three isochronous and three irregular stimuli did not result in improvement of the generalization. In contrast, humans, exposed to the same stimuli, readily generalized across tempo changes. Our results suggest that zebra finches distinguish the different stimuli by learning specific local temporal features of each individual stimulus rather than attending to the global structure of the stimuli, i.e., to the temporal regularity. PMID:25725348

  14. Infestation of research zebra finch colony with 2 novel mite species.

    PubMed

    Siddalls, Monica; Currier, Timothy A; Pang, Jassia; Lertpiriyapong, Kvin; Patterson, Mary M

    2015-02-01

    A zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) housed in a neuroscience laboratory was observed to have numerous feather mites. Subsequently, similar mites were found on other birds in the animal facility and research space. The most abundant mite was a novel, undescribed species in the genus Neocheyletiella. Whereas known Neocheyletiella mites have previously been characterized as skin parasites of various birds worldwide, the species on the zebra finches is unique because it lives and builds nests in the feathers. Infrequent specimens of a 'true' feather mite, a new species of Megninialges, were present also. Although multiple treatments using a pyrethrin spray were effective in eradicating the mites, topical ivermectin later was found to be more efficacious, better tolerated by the birds, and less labor intensive. This case highlights the general dearth of information regarding ectoparasites in zebra finches, even though these are the most frequently used songbirds in biomedical research. The mite epizootic also underscores the diverse pathogens possible in zebra finches that arrive from outside sources and why ongoing health monitoring of finch colonies is warranted. PMID:25730757

  15. Cannabinoid exposure during zebra finch sensorimotor vocal learning persistently alters expression of endocannabinoid signaling elements and acute agonist responsiveness

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background Previously we have found that cannabinoid treatment of zebra finches during sensorimotor stages of vocal development alters song patterns produced in adulthood. Such persistently altered behavior must be attributable to changes in physiological substrates responsible for song. We are currently working to identify the nature of such physiological changes, and to understand how they contribute to altered vocal learning. One possibility is that developmental agonist exposure results in altered expression of elements of endocannabinoid signaling systems. To test this hypothesis we have studied effects of the potent cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN55212-2 (WIN) on endocannabinoid levels and densities of CB1 immunostaining in zebra finch brain. Results We found that late postnatal WIN treatment caused a long-term global disregulation of both levels of the endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG) and densities of CB1 immunostaining across brain regions, while repeated cannabinoid treatment in adults produced few long-term changes in the endogenous cannabinoid system. Conclusions Our findings indicate that the zebra finch endocannabinoid system is particularly sensitive to exogenous agonist exposure during the critical period of song learning and provide insight into susceptible brain areas. PMID:21211022

  16. A Generalizability Analysis of Subjective Personality Assessments in the Stumptail Macaque and the Zebra Finch.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Figueredo, Aurelio Jose; And Others

    1995-01-01

    Two longitudinal studies involving 29 raters concerning the construct validity, temporal stability, and interrater reliability of the latent common factors underlying subjective assessments by human raters of personality traits in the stumptail macaque and the zebra finch illustrate the use of generalizability analysis to test prespecified…

  17. Zebra Finch Song Phonology and Syntactical Structure across Populations and Continents—A Computational Comparison

    PubMed Central

    Lachlan, Robert F.; van Heijningen, Caroline A. A.; ter Haar, Sita M.; ten Cate, Carel

    2016-01-01

    Learned bird songs are often characterized by a high degree of variation between individuals and sometimes between populations, while at the same time maintaining species specificity. The evolution of such songs depends on the balance between plasticity and constraints. Captive populations provide an opportunity to examine signal variation and differentiation in detail, so we analyzed adult male zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) songs recorded from 13 populations across the world, including one sample of songs from wild-caught males in their native Australia. Cluster analysis suggested some, albeit limited, evidence that zebra finch song units belonged to universal, species-wide categories, linked to restrictions in vocal production and non-song parts of the vocal repertoire. Across populations, songs also showed some syntactical structure, although any song unit could be placed anywhere within the song. On the other hand, there was a statistically significant differentiation between populations, but the effect size was very small, and its communicative significance dubious. Our results suggest that variation in zebra finch songs within a population is largely determined by species-wide constraints rather than population-specific features. Although captive zebra finch populations have been sufficiently isolated to allow them to genetically diverge, there does not appear to have been any divergence in the genetically determined constraints that underlie song learning. Perhaps more surprising is the lack of locally diverged cultural traditions. Zebra finches serve as an example of a system where frequent learning errors may rapidly create within-population diversity, within broad phonological and syntactical constraints, and prevent the formation of long-term cultural traditions that allow populations to diverge. PMID:27458396

  18. Zebra Finch Song Phonology and Syntactical Structure across Populations and Continents-A Computational Comparison.

    PubMed

    Lachlan, Robert F; van Heijningen, Caroline A A; Ter Haar, Sita M; Ten Cate, Carel

    2016-01-01

    Learned bird songs are often characterized by a high degree of variation between individuals and sometimes between populations, while at the same time maintaining species specificity. The evolution of such songs depends on the balance between plasticity and constraints. Captive populations provide an opportunity to examine signal variation and differentiation in detail, so we analyzed adult male zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) songs recorded from 13 populations across the world, including one sample of songs from wild-caught males in their native Australia. Cluster analysis suggested some, albeit limited, evidence that zebra finch song units belonged to universal, species-wide categories, linked to restrictions in vocal production and non-song parts of the vocal repertoire. Across populations, songs also showed some syntactical structure, although any song unit could be placed anywhere within the song. On the other hand, there was a statistically significant differentiation between populations, but the effect size was very small, and its communicative significance dubious. Our results suggest that variation in zebra finch songs within a population is largely determined by species-wide constraints rather than population-specific features. Although captive zebra finch populations have been sufficiently isolated to allow them to genetically diverge, there does not appear to have been any divergence in the genetically determined constraints that underlie song learning. Perhaps more surprising is the lack of locally diverged cultural traditions. Zebra finches serve as an example of a system where frequent learning errors may rapidly create within-population diversity, within broad phonological and syntactical constraints, and prevent the formation of long-term cultural traditions that allow populations to diverge. PMID:27458396

  19. Inhibition protects acquired song segments during vocal learning in zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Vallentin, Daniela; Kosche, Georg; Lipkind, Dina; Long, Michael A.

    2016-01-01

    Vocal imitation involves incorporating instructive auditory information into relevant motor circuits through processes that are poorly understood. In zebra finches, we find that exposure to a tutor’s song drives spiking activity within premotor neurons in the juvenile but that inhibition suppresses such responses upon learning in adulthood. We measure inhibitory currents evoked by the tutor song throughout development while simultaneously quantifying each bird’s learning trajectory. Surprisingly, we find that the maturation of synaptic inhibition onto premotor neurons is correlated with learning but not age. We used synthetic tutoring to demonstrate that inhibition is selective for specific song elements that have already been learned and not those still in refinement. Our results suggest that structured inhibition is playing a crucial role during song acquisition, enabling a piece-by-piece mastery of complex tasks. PMID:26816377

  20. Neural circuits. Inhibition protects acquired song segments during vocal learning in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Vallentin, Daniela; Kosche, Georg; Lipkind, Dina; Long, Michael A

    2016-01-15

    Vocal imitation involves incorporating instructive auditory information into relevant motor circuits through processes that are poorly understood. In zebra finches, we found that exposure to a tutor's song drives spiking activity within premotor neurons in the juvenile, whereas inhibition suppresses such responses upon learning in adulthood. We measured inhibitory currents evoked by the tutor song throughout development while simultaneously quantifying each bird's learning trajectory. Surprisingly, we found that the maturation of synaptic inhibition onto premotor neurons is correlated with learning but not age. We used synthetic tutoring to demonstrate that inhibition is selective for specific song elements that have already been learned and not those still in refinement. Our results suggest that structured inhibition plays a crucial role during song acquisition, enabling a piece-by-piece mastery of complex tasks. PMID:26816377

  1. Sex-dependent effects of nutrition on telomere dynamics in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Noguera, Jose C; Metcalfe, Neil B; Boner, Winnie; Monaghan, Pat

    2015-02-01

    At a cellular level, oxidative stress is known to increase telomere attrition, and hence cellular senescence and risk of disease. It has been proposed that dietary micronutrients play an important role in telomere protection due to their antioxidant properties. We experimentally manipulated dietary micronutrients during early life in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). We found no effects of micronutrient intake on telomere loss during chick growth. However, females given a diet high in micronutrients during sexual maturation showed reduced telomere loss; there was no such effect in males. These results suggest that micronutrients may influence rates of cellular senescence, but differences in micronutrient requirement and allocation strategies, probably linked to the development of sexual coloration, may underlie sex differences in response. PMID:25716087

  2. An experimental test of condition-dependent male and female mate choice in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Holveck, Marie-Jeanne; Geberzahn, Nicole; Riebel, Katharina

    2011-01-01

    In mating systems with social monogamy and obligatory bi-parental care, such as found in many songbird species, male and female fitness depends on the combined parental investment. Hence, both sexes should gain from choosing mates in high rather than low condition. However, theory also predicts that an individual's phenotypic quality can constrain choice, if low condition individuals cannot afford prolonged search efforts and/or face higher risk of rejection. In systems with mutual mate choice, the interaction between male and female condition should thus be a better predictor of choice than either factor in isolation. To address this prediction experimentally, we manipulated male and female condition and subsequently tested male and female mating preferences in zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata, a songbird species with mutual mate choice and obligatory bi-parental care. We experimentally altered phenotypic quality by manipulating the brood size in which the birds were reared. Patterns of association for high- or low-condition individuals of the opposite sex differed for male and female focal birds when tested in an 8-way choice arena. Females showed repeatable condition-assortative preferences for males matching their own rearing background. Male preferences were also repeatable, but not predicted by their own or females' rearing background. In combination with a brief review of the literature on condition-dependent mate choice in the zebra finch we discuss whether the observed sex differences and between-studies differences arise because males and females differ in context sensitivity (e.g. male-male competition suppressing male mating preferences), sampling strategies or susceptibility to rearing conditions (e.g. sex-specific effect on physiology). While a picture emerges that juvenile and current state indeed affect preferences, the development and context-dependency of mutual state-dependent mate choice warrants further study. PMID:21901147

  3. An Experimental Test of Condition-Dependent Male and Female Mate Choice in Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Holveck, Marie-Jeanne; Geberzahn, Nicole; Riebel, Katharina

    2011-01-01

    In mating systems with social monogamy and obligatory bi-parental care, such as found in many songbird species, male and female fitness depends on the combined parental investment. Hence, both sexes should gain from choosing mates in high rather than low condition. However, theory also predicts that an individual's phenotypic quality can constrain choice, if low condition individuals cannot afford prolonged search efforts and/or face higher risk of rejection. In systems with mutual mate choice, the interaction between male and female condition should thus be a better predictor of choice than either factor in isolation. To address this prediction experimentally, we manipulated male and female condition and subsequently tested male and female mating preferences in zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata, a songbird species with mutual mate choice and obligatory bi-parental care. We experimentally altered phenotypic quality by manipulating the brood size in which the birds were reared. Patterns of association for high- or low-condition individuals of the opposite sex differed for male and female focal birds when tested in an 8-way choice arena. Females showed repeatable condition-assortative preferences for males matching their own rearing background. Male preferences were also repeatable, but not predicted by their own or females' rearing background. In combination with a brief review of the literature on condition-dependent mate choice in the zebra finch we discuss whether the observed sex differences and between-studies differences arise because males and females differ in context sensitivity (e.g. male-male competition suppressing male mating preferences), sampling strategies or susceptibility to rearing conditions (e.g. sex-specific effect on physiology). While a picture emerges that juvenile and current state indeed affect preferences, the development and context-dependency of mutual state-dependent mate choice warrants further study. PMID:21901147

  4. The Zebra Finch, Taeniopygia guttata: An Avian Model for Investigating the Neurobiological Basis of Vocal Learning

    PubMed Central

    Mello, Claudio V.

    2015-01-01

    Songbirds are capable of learning their vocalizations by copying a singing adult. This vocal learning ability requires juveniles to hear and memorize the sound of the adult song, and later to imitate that song through a process involving sensorimotor integration. Vocal learning is a trait that songbirds share with humans, where it forms the basis of spoken language acquisition, with other avian groups (parrots and hummingbirds), and with a few other mammals (cetaceans, bats). It is however absent in traditional model organisms like rodents and non-human primates. Zebra finches, a songbird species from Australia, are popular pets, as they have attractive plumage and social behaviors and are easy to breed. They also sing a relatively simple and stereotyped song that is very amenable to quantitative analysis. Zebra finches have thus emerged as a choice model organism for investigating the neurobiological basis of vocal learning. A number of tools and methodologies have been developed to characterize the bioacoustics properties of their song, analyze the degree of accurate copying during vocal learning, map the brain circuits that control singing and song learning, and investigate the physiology of these circuits. Such studies have led to a large base of knowledge on song production and learning, and their underlying neural substrate. Several molecular resources have recently become available, including brain cDNA/EST databases, microarrays, BAC libraries, a molecular brain atlas, a complete genome assembly, and the ability to perform transgenesis. The recent availability of many other avian genomes provides unique opportunities for comparative analysis in the search of features unique to vocal learning organisms. PMID:25342070

  5. Increased activity correlates with reduced ability to mount immune defenses to endotoxin in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Lopes, Patricia C; Springthorpe, Dwight; Bentley, George E

    2014-10-01

    When suffering from infection, animals experience behavioral and physiological alterations that potentiate the immune system's ability to fight pathogens. The behavioral component of this response, termed "sickness behavior," is characterized by an overall reduction in physical activity. A growing number of reports demonstrate substantial flexibility in these sickness behaviors, which can be partially overcome in response to mates, intruders and parental duties. Since it is hypothesized that adopting sickness behaviors frees energetic resources for mounting an immune response, we tested whether diminished immune responses coincided with reduced sickness behaviors by housing male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) in social conditions that alter their behavioral response to an endotoxin. To facilitate our data collection, we developed and built a miniaturized sensor capable of detecting changes in dorsoventral acceleration and categorizing them as different behaviors when attached to the finches. We found that the immune defenses (quantified as haptoglobin-like activity, ability to change body temperature and bacterial killing capacity) increased as a function of increased time spent resting. The findings indicate that when animals are sick attenuation of sickness behaviors may exact costs, such as reduced immune function. The extent of these costs depends on how relevant the affected components of immunity are for fighting a specific infection. PMID:24888267

  6. Breeding Experience, Alternative Reproductive Strategies and Reproductive Success in a Captive Colony of Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

    PubMed Central

    Baran, Nicole M.; Adkins-Regan, Elizabeth

    2014-01-01

    Birds exhibit a remarkable diversity of different reproductive strategies both between and within species. Species such as the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) may evolve the flexible use of alternative reproductive strategies, as well as benefit from prior breeding experience, which allows them to adaptively respond to unpredictable environments. In birds, the flexible use of alternative reproductive strategies, such as extra-pair mating, has been reported to be associated with fast reproduction, high mortality and environmental variability. However, little is known about the role of previous breeding experience in the adaptive use of alternative reproductive strategies. Here we performed an in-depth study of reproductive outcomes in a population of domesticated zebra finches, testing the impact of prior breeding experience on the use of alternative reproductive strategies and reproductive success. We provide evidence that older females with prior breeding experience are quicker to initiate a clutch with a new partner and have increased success in chick rearing, even in a captive colony of zebra finches with minimal foraging demands. We also find evidence that the breeding experience of other females in the same social group influences reproductive investment by female zebra finches. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the use of alternative reproductive strategies in female zebra finches is associated with previous failed breeding attempts with the same pair partner. The results provide evidence that age and breeding experience play important roles in the flexible use of both facultative and adaptive reproductive strategies in female zebra finches. PMID:24587051

  7. PHA-stimulated immune-responsiveness in mercury-dosed zebra finches does not match results from environmentally exposed songbirds.

    PubMed

    Caudill, Mitchell T; Spear, Eliza L; Varian-Ramos, Claire W; Cristol, Daniel A

    2015-04-01

    Dietary mercury exposure is associated with suppressed immune responsiveness in birds. This study examined the immune-responsiveness of domestic zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) experimentally exposed to mercury through their diet. We used the phytohemagglutinin (PHA) skin-swelling test to assay the effect of two modes of mercury exposure. Some finches received exposure to mercury only after reaching sexual maturity, while others were maintained on a mercury-dosed diet throughout life, including development. Each bird received one of five dietary concentrations of methylmercury cysteine (0.0, 0.3, 0.6, 1.2 or 2.4 ppm). In contrast to a study on wild songbirds at a mercury-contaminated site, we detected no relationship between mercury level and immunological response to PHA, regardless of mode of exposure. This result represents the first major difference found by our laboratory between wild birds exposed to environmental mercury and captive birds experimentally exposed to mercury. PMID:25638440

  8. RNA-seq transcriptome analysis of male and female zebra finch cell lines.

    PubMed Central

    Balakrishnan, Christopher N.; Lin, Ya-Chi; London, Sarah E.; Clayton, David F.

    2012-01-01

    The derivation of stably cultured cell lines has been critical to the advance of molecular biology. We profiled gene expression in the first two generally available cell lines derived from zebra finch. Using Illumina RNA-seq, we generated ~93 million reads and mapped the majority to the recently assembled zebra finch genome. Expression of most Ensembl-annotated genes was detected, but over half of the mapped reads aligned outside annotated genes. The male-derived G266 line expressed Z-linked genes at a higher level than did the female-derived ZFTMA line, indicating persistence in culture of the distinctive lack of avian sex chromosome dosage compensation. Although these cell lines were not derived from neural tissue, many neurobiologically relevant genes were expressed, although typically at lower levels than in a reference sample from auditory forebrain. These cell lines recapitulate fundamental songbird biology and will be useful for future studies of songbird gene regulation and function. PMID:22922019

  9. Flavoprotein Autofluorescence Imaging of Visual System Activity in Zebra Finches and Mice

    PubMed Central

    Michael, Neethu; Bischof, Hans-Joachim; Löwel, Siegrid

    2014-01-01

    Large-scale brain activity patterns can be visualized by optical imaging of intrinsic signals (OIS) based on activity-dependent changes in the blood oxygenation level. Another method, flavoprotein autofluorescence imaging (AFI), exploits the mitochondrial flavoprotein autofluorescence, which is enhanced during neuronal activity. In birds, topographic mapping of visual space has been shown in the visual wulst, the avian homologue of the mammalian visual cortex by using OIS. We here applied the AFI method to visualize topographic maps in the visual wulst because with OIS, which depends on blood flow changes, blood vessel artifacts often obscure brain activity maps. We then compared both techniques quantitatively in zebra finches and in C57Bl/6J mice using the same setup and stimulation conditions. In addition to experiments with craniotomized animals, we also examined mice with intact skull (in zebra finches, intact skull imaging is not feasible probably due to the skull construction). In craniotomized animals, retinotopic maps were obtained by both methods in both species. Using AFI, artifacts caused by blood vessels were generally reduced, the magnitude of neuronal activity significantly higher and the retinotopic map quality better than that obtained by OIS in both zebra finches and mice. In contrast, our measurements in non-craniotomized mice did not reveal any quantitative differences between the two methods. Our results thus suggest that AFI is the method of choice for investigations of visual processing in zebra finches. In mice, however, if researchers decide to use the advantages of imaging through the intact skull, they will not be able to exploit the higher signals obtainable by the AFI-method. PMID:24400130

  10. Same-sex partner preference in zebra finches: pairing flexibility and choice.

    PubMed

    Tomaszycki, Michelle L; Zatirka, Brendon P

    2014-11-01

    This study examined flexibility and choice in same-sex pair-bonding behavior in adult zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Zebra finches form life-long monogamous relationships and extra pair behavior is very low, making them an ideal species in which to study same-sex pairing. We examined same-sex behaviors using both semi-naturalistic choice paradigms and skewed sex ratios. In the first experiment, we allowed zebra finches to pair in aviaries with equal sex ratios as part of multiple experiments. On average, 6.4% (N = 78) of unmanipulated pairs were same-sex: all but one was female-female. In a second experiment, we identified pairs from same-sex cages and selected 20 total same-sex pairs (10 of each sex). We then gave pairs a chance to court and pair with members of the opposite sex and observed their behavior for three days. Females did not retain their partner, but most paired with males. In contrast, some males did retain their partner. Similarly, females were more likely to engage in pairing behaviors with males than with their partners or other females whereas males were equally likely to engage in same-sex and opposite-sex pairing behaviors. These findings suggest that same-sex partnerships in zebra finches can be facultative, based on the sex ratio of the group in which they live, but can also be a choice, when opportunities to pair with opposite-sex individuals are possible. Furthermore, it is possible that females are more flexible in this choice of same-sex partnerships than are males. PMID:25190500

  11. Zebra Finch Mates Use Their Forebrain Song System in Unlearned Call Communication

    PubMed Central

    Ter Maat, Andries; Trost, Lisa; Sagunsky, Hannes; Seltmann, Susanne; Gahr, Manfred

    2014-01-01

    Unlearned calls are produced by all birds whereas learned songs are only found in three avian taxa, most notably in songbirds. The neural basis for song learning and production is formed by interconnected song nuclei: the song control system. In addition to song, zebra finches produce large numbers of soft, unlearned calls, among which “stack” calls are uttered frequently. To determine unequivocally the calls produced by each member of a group, we mounted miniature wireless microphones on each zebra finch. We find that group living paired males and females communicate using bilateral stack calling. To investigate the role of the song control system in call-based male female communication, we recorded the electrical activity in a premotor nucleus of the song control system in freely behaving male birds. The unique combination of acoustic monitoring together with wireless brain recording of individual zebra finches in groups shows that the neuronal activity of the song system correlates with the production of unlearned stack calls. The results suggest that the song system evolved from a brain circuit controlling simple unlearned calls to a system capable of producing acoustically rich, learned vocalizations. PMID:25313846

  12. Bill Redness Is Positively Associated with Reproduction and Survival in Male and Female Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Simons, Mirre J. P.; Briga, Michael; Koetsier, Egbert; Folkertsma, Remco; Wubs, Matthias D.; Dijkstra, Cor; Verhulst, Simon

    2012-01-01

    Sexual traits can serve as honest indicators of phenotypic quality when they are costly. Brightly coloured yellow to red traits, which are pigmented by carotenoids, are relatively common in birds, and feature in sexual selection. Carotenoids have been linked to immune and antioxidant function, and the trade-off between ornamentation and these physiological functions provides a potential mechanism rendering carotenoid based signals costly. Mutual ornamentation is also common in birds and can be maintained by mutual mate choice for this ornament or by a correlated response in one sex to selection on the other sex. When selection pressures differ between the sexes this can cause intralocus sexual conflict. Sexually antagonistic selection pressures have been demonstrated for few sexual traits, and for carotenoid-dependent traits there is a single example: bill redness was found to be positively associated with survival and reproductive output in male zebra finches, but negatively so in females. We retested these associations in our captive zebra finch population without two possible limitations of this earlier study. Contrary to the earlier findings, we found no evidence for sexually antagonistic selection. In both sexes, individuals with redder bills showed higher survival. This association disappeared among the females with the reddest bills. Furthermore, females with redder bills achieved higher reproductive output. We conclude that bill redness of male and female zebra finches honestly signals phenotypic quality, and discuss the possible causes of the differences between our results and earlier findings. PMID:22808243

  13. [Long-term plasticity of HVC-RA synapses in adult male zebra finches].

    PubMed

    Li, Feng-Ling; Li, Dong-Feng

    2013-12-25

    Long-term synaptic plasticity is considered as a key part of the neural mechanism of learning and memory. The production of learned vocalization of male zebra finches is closely related to high vocal center (HVC)-robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA) pathway. However, the long-term plasticity of HVC-RA synapses is unclear. This study investigated the long-term plasticity of HVC-RA synapses in adult male zebra finches through in vivo field potential recording. The results showed that physiologic stimulation, i.e., δ rhythmic stimulation and low frequency stimulation could not effectively induce long-term synaptic plasticity. The former leaded to no change of the amplitudes of evoked population spikes, and the latter induced short-term depression (STD) of the amplitudes of the second evoked population spikes caused by paired pulses. But high frequency stimulation induced long-term depression (LTD) of the amplitudes of evoked population spikes to show out long-term synaptic plasticity. These results suggest that LTD represents the long-term plasticity of HVC-RA synapses in adult male zebra finches, which may be a key part of the neural mechanism of vocal learning and memory and can explain the plasticity of adult song to some degree. PMID:24343715

  14. A Daily Oscillation in the Fundamental Frequency and Amplitude of Harmonic Syllables of Zebra Finch Song

    PubMed Central

    Wood, William E.; Osseward, Peter J.; Roseberry, Thomas K.; Perkel, David J.

    2013-01-01

    Complex motor skills are more difficult to perform at certain points in the day (for example, shortly after waking), but the daily trajectory of motor-skill error is more difficult to predict. By undertaking a quantitative analysis of the fundamental frequency (FF) and amplitude of hundreds of zebra finch syllables per animal per day, we find that zebra finch song follows a previously undescribed daily oscillation. The FF and amplitude of harmonic syllables rises across the morning, reaching a peak near mid-day, and then falls again in the late afternoon until sleep. This oscillation, although somewhat variable, is consistent across days and across animals and does not require serotonin, as animals with serotonergic lesions maintained daily oscillations. We hypothesize that this oscillation is driven by underlying physiological factors which could be shared with other taxa. Song production in zebra finches is a model system for studying complex learned behavior because of the ease of gathering comprehensive behavioral data and the tractability of the underlying neural circuitry. The daily oscillation that we describe promises to reveal new insights into how time of day affects the ability to accomplish a variety of complex learned motor skills. PMID:24312654

  15. Gene duplication and fragmentation in the zebra finch major histocompatibility complex

    PubMed Central

    2010-01-01

    Background Due to its high polymorphism and importance for disease resistance, the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) has been an important focus of many vertebrate genome projects. Avian MHC organization is of particular interest because the chicken Gallus gallus, the avian species with the best characterized MHC, possesses a highly streamlined minimal essential MHC, which is linked to resistance against specific pathogens. It remains unclear the extent to which this organization describes the situation in other birds and whether it represents a derived or ancestral condition. The sequencing of the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata genome, in combination with targeted bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) sequencing, has allowed us to characterize an MHC from a highly divergent and diverse avian lineage, the passerines. Results The zebra finch MHC exhibits a complex structure and history involving gene duplication and fragmentation. The zebra finch MHC includes multiple Class I and Class II genes, some of which appear to be pseudogenes, and spans a much more extensive genomic region than the chicken MHC, as evidenced by the presence of MHC genes on each of seven BACs spanning 739 kb. Cytogenetic (FISH) evidence and the genome assembly itself place core MHC genes on as many as four chromosomes with TAP and Class I genes mapping to different chromosomes. MHC Class II regions are further characterized by high endogenous retroviral content. Lastly, we find strong evidence of selection acting on sites within passerine MHC Class I and Class II genes. Conclusion The zebra finch MHC differs markedly from that of the chicken, the only other bird species with a complete genome sequence. The apparent lack of synteny between TAP and the expressed MHC Class I locus is in fact reminiscent of a pattern seen in some mammalian lineages and may represent convergent evolution. Our analyses of the zebra finch MHC suggest a complex history involving chromosomal fission, gene

  16. Developmental effects of vasotocin and nonapeptide receptors on early social attachment and affiliative behavior in the zebra finch.

    PubMed

    Baran, Nicole M; Sklar, Nathan C; Adkins-Regan, Elizabeth

    2016-02-01

    Zebra finches demonstrate selective affiliation between juvenile offspring and parents, which, like affiliation between pair partners, is characterized by proximity, vocal communication and contact behaviors. This experiment tested the hypothesis that the nonapeptide arginine vasotocin (AVT, avian homologue of vasopressin) and nonapeptide receptors play a role prior to fledging in the development of affiliative behavior. Zebra finch hatchlings of both sexes received daily intracranial injections (post-hatch days 2-8) of either AVT, Manning Compound (MC, a potent V1a receptor antagonist) or saline (vehicle control). The social development of both sexes was assessed by measuring responsiveness to isolation from the family and subsequent reunion with the male parent after fledging. In addition, we assessed the changes in affiliation with the parents, unfamiliar males, and unfamiliar females each week throughout juvenile development. Compared to controls, MC subjects showed decreased attachment to the parents and MC males did not show the normal increase in affiliative interest in opposite sex individuals as they reached reproductive maturity. In contrast, AVT subjects showed a sustained affiliative interest in parents throughout development, and males showed increased interest in opposite sex conspecifics as they matured. These results provide the first evidence suggesting that AVT and nonapeptide receptors play organizational roles in social development in a bird. PMID:26476409

  17. A neural circuit mechanism for regulating vocal variability during song learning in zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Garst-Orozco, Jonathan; Babadi, Baktash; Ölveczky, Bence P

    2014-01-01

    Motor skill learning is characterized by improved performance and reduced motor variability. The neural mechanisms that couple skill level and variability, however, are not known. The zebra finch, a songbird, presents a unique opportunity to address this question because production of learned song and induction of vocal variability are instantiated in distinct circuits that converge on a motor cortex analogue controlling vocal output. To probe the interplay between learning and variability, we made intracellular recordings from neurons in this area, characterizing how their inputs from the functionally distinct pathways change throughout song development. We found that inputs that drive stereotyped song-patterns are strengthened and pruned, while inputs that induce variability remain unchanged. A simple network model showed that strengthening and pruning of action-specific connections reduces the sensitivity of motor control circuits to variable input and neural ‘noise’. This identifies a simple and general mechanism for learning-related regulation of motor variability. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.03697.001 PMID:25497835

  18. The Forebrain Song System Mediates Predictive Call Timing in Female and Male Zebra Finches.

    PubMed

    Benichov, Jonathan I; Benezra, Sam E; Vallentin, Daniela; Globerson, Eitan; Long, Michael A; Tchernichovski, Ofer

    2016-02-01

    The dichotomy between vocal learners and non-learners is a fundamental distinction in the study of animal communication. Male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are vocal learners that acquire a song resembling their tutors', whereas females can only produce innate calls. The acoustic structure of short calls, produced by both males and females, is not learned. However, these calls can be precisely coordinated across individuals. To examine how birds learn to synchronize their calls, we developed a vocal robot that exchanges calls with a partner bird. Because birds answer the robot with stereotyped latencies, we could program it to disrupt each bird's responses by producing calls that are likely to coincide with the bird's. Within minutes, the birds learned to avoid this disruptive masking (jamming) by adjusting the timing of their responses. Notably, females exhibited greater adaptive timing plasticity than males. Further, when challenged with complex rhythms containing jamming elements, birds dynamically adjusted the timing of their calls in anticipation of jamming. Blocking the song system cortical output dramatically reduced the precision of birds' response timing and abolished their ability to avoid jamming. Surprisingly, we observed this effect in both males and females, indicating that the female song system is functional rather than vestigial. We suggest that descending forebrain projections, including the song-production pathway, function as a general-purpose sensorimotor communication system. In the case of calls, it enables plasticity in vocal timing to facilitate social interactions, whereas in the case of songs, plasticity extends to developmental changes in vocal structure. PMID:26774786

  19. Mate call as reward: Acoustic communication signals can acquire positive reinforcing values during adulthood in female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Hernandez, Alexandra M; Perez, Emilie C; Mulard, Hervé; Mathevon, Nicolas; Vignal, Clémentine

    2016-02-01

    Social stimuli can have rewarding properties and promote learning. In birds, conspecific vocalizations like song can act as a reinforcer, and specific song variants can acquire particular rewarding values during early life exposure. Here we ask if, during adulthood, an acoustic signal simpler and shorter than song can become a reward for a female songbird because of its particular social value. Using an operant choice apparatus, we showed that female zebra finches display a preferential response toward their mate's calls. This reinforcing value of mate's calls could be involved in the maintenance of the monogamous pair-bond of the zebra finch. PMID:26881942

  20. Red Carotenoid Coloration in the Zebra Finch Is Controlled by a Cytochrome P450 Gene Cluster.

    PubMed

    Mundy, Nicholas I; Stapley, Jessica; Bennison, Clair; Tucker, Rachel; Twyman, Hanlu; Kim, Kang-Wook; Burke, Terry; Birkhead, Tim R; Andersson, Staffan; Slate, Jon

    2016-06-01

    Bright-red colors in vertebrates are commonly involved in sexual, social, and interspecific signaling [1-8] and are largely produced by ketocarotenoid pigments. In land birds, ketocarotenoids such as astaxanthin are usually metabolically derived via ketolation of dietary yellow carotenoids [9, 10]. However, the molecular basis of this gene-environment mechanism has remained obscure. Here we use the yellowbeak mutation in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) to investigate the genetic basis of red coloration. Wild-type ketocarotenoids were absent in the beak and tarsus of yellowbeak birds. The yellowbeak mutation mapped to chromosome 8, close to a cluster of cytochrome P450 loci (CYP2J2-like) that are candidates for carotenoid ketolases. The wild-type zebra finch genome was found to have three intact genes in this cluster: CYP2J19A, CYP2J19B, and CYP2J40. In yellowbeak, there are multiple mutations: loss of a complete CYP2J19 gene, a modified remaining CYP2J19 gene (CYP2J19(yb)), and a non-synonymous SNP in CYP2J40. In wild-type birds, CYP2J19 loci are expressed in ketocarotenoid-containing tissues: CYP2J19A only in the retina and CYP2J19B in the beak and tarsus and to a variable extent in the retina. In contrast, expression of CYP2J19(yb) is barely detectable in the beak of yellowbeak birds. CYP2J40 has broad tissue expression and shows no differences between wild-type and yellowbeak. Our results indicate that CYP2J19 genes are strong candidates for the carotenoid ketolase and imply that ketolation occurs in the integument in zebra finches. Since cytochrome P450 enzymes include key detoxification enzymes, our results raise the intriguing possibility that red coloration may be an honest signal of detoxification ability. PMID:27212402

  1. Genetic variation and differentiation in captive and wild zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Forstmeier, Wolfgang; Segelbacher, Gernot; Mueller, Jakob C; Kempenaers, Bart

    2007-10-01

    The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) is a small Australian grassland songbird that has been domesticated over the past two centuries. Because it is easy to breed in captivity, it has become a widely used study organism, especially in behavioural research. Most work has been conducted on domesticated populations maintained at numerous laboratories in Europe and North America. However, little is known about the extent to which, during the process of domestication, captive populations have gone through bottlenecks in population size, leading to inbred and potentially genetically differentiated study populations. This is an important issue, because (i) behavioural studies on captive populations might suffer from artefacts arising from high levels of inbreeding or lack of genetic variation in such populations, and (ii) it may hamper the comparability of research findings. To address this issue, we genotyped 1000 zebra finches from 18 captive and two wild populations at 10 highly variable microsatellite loci. We found that all captive populations have lost some of the genetic variability present in the wild, but there is no evidence that they have gone through a severe bottleneck, as the average captive population still showed a mean of 11.7 alleles per locus, compared to a mean of 19.3 alleles/locus for wild zebra finches. We found significant differentiation between the captive populations (F(ST) = 0.062). Patterns of genetic similarity closely match geographical relationships, so the most pronounced differences occur between the three continents: Australia, North America, and Europe. By providing a tree of the genetic similarity of the different captive populations, we hope to contribute to a better understanding of variation in research findings obtained by different laboratories. PMID:17894758

  2. The effects of delayed auditory feedback revealed by bone conduction microphone in adult zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Fukushima, Makoto; Margoliash, Daniel

    2015-01-01

    Vocal control and learning are critically dependent on auditory feedback in songbirds and humans. Continuous delayed auditory feedback (cDAF) robustly disrupts speech fluency in normal humans and has ameliorative effects in some stutterers; however, evaluations of the effects of cDAF on songbirds are rare. We exposed singing young (141–151 days old) adult zebra finch males to high-amplitude cDAF. cDAF exposure was achieved by the recording of bone-conducted sounds using a piezoelectric accelerometer, which resulted in high-quality song recordings that were relatively uncontaminated by airborne sounds. Under this condition of cDAF, birds rapidly (2–6 days) changed their song syllable timing. The one bird for which we were able to maintain the accelerometer recordings over a long period of time recovered slowly over more than a month after cDAF was discontinued. These results demonstrate that cDAF can cause substantial changes in the motor program for syllable timing generation over short intervals of time in adult zebra finches. PMID:25739659

  3. Digital Atlas of the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) Brain: a High Resolution Photo Atlas

    PubMed Central

    Karten, Harvey J.; Brzozowska-Prechtl, Agnieszka; Lovell, Peter V.; Tang, Daniel D.; Mello, Claudio V.; Wang, Haibin; Mitra, Partha P.

    2014-01-01

    We describe a set of new comprehensive, high-quality, high-resolution digital images of histological sections from the brain of male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), and make them publicly available through an interactive website (http://zebrafinch.brainarchitecture.org/). These images provide a basis for the production of a dimensionally accurate and detailed digital non-stereotaxic atlas. Nissl- and myelin-stained brain sections are provided in the transverse, sagittal, and horizontal planes, with the transverse plane approximating the more traditional Frankfurt Plane. In addition, a separate set of brain sections in this same plane is stained for tyrosine hydroxylase, revealing the distribution of catecholaminergic neurons (dopaminergic, noradrenergic, and adrenergic) in the songbird brain. For a subset of sagittal sections we have also prepared a corresponding set of drawings, defining and annotating various nuclei, fields, and fiber tracts that are visible under Nissl and myelin staining. This atlas of the zebra finch brain is expected to become an important tool for birdsong research and comparative studies of brain organization and evolution. PMID:23896990

  4. Zebra finches can use positional and transitional cues to distinguish vocal element strings.

    PubMed

    Chen, Jiani; Ten Cate, Carel

    2015-08-01

    Learning sequences is of great importance to humans and non-human animals. Many motor and mental actions, such as singing in birds and speech processing in humans, rely on sequential learning. At least two mechanisms are considered to be involved in such learning. The chaining theory proposes that learning of sequences relies on memorizing the transitions between adjacent items, while the positional theory suggests that learners encode the items according to their ordinal position in the sequence. Positional learning is assumed to dominate sequential learning. However, human infants exposed to a string of speech sounds can learn transitional (chaining) cues. So far, it is not clear whether birds, an increasingly important model for examining vocal processing, can do this. In this study we use a Go-Nogo design to examine whether zebra finches can use transitional cues to distinguish artificially constructed strings of song elements. Zebra finches were trained with sequences differing in transitional and positional information and next tested with novel strings sharing positional and transitional similarities with the training strings. The results show that they can attend to both transitional and positional cues and that their sequential coding strategies can be biased toward transitional cues depending on the learning context. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: In Honor of Jerry Hogan. PMID:25217867

  5. Budgerigars and zebra finches differ in how they generalize in an artificial grammar learning experiment.

    PubMed

    Spierings, Michelle J; Ten Cate, Carel

    2016-07-01

    The ability to abstract a regularity that underlies strings of sounds is a core mechanism of the language faculty but might not be specific to language learning or even to humans. It is unclear whether and to what extent nonhuman animals possess the ability to abstract regularities defining the relation among arbitrary auditory items in a string and to generalize this abstraction to strings of acoustically novel items. In this study we tested these abilities in a songbird (zebra finch) and a parrot species (budgerigar). Subjects were trained in a go/no-go design to discriminate between two sets of sound strings arranged in an XYX or an XXY structure. After this discrimination was acquired, each subject was tested with test strings that were structurally identical to the training strings but consisted of either new combinations of known elements or of novel elements belonging to other element categories. Both species learned to discriminate between the two stimulus sets. However, their responses to the test strings were strikingly different. Zebra finches categorized test stimuli with previously heard elements by the ordinal position that these elements occupied in the training strings, independent of string structure. In contrast, the budgerigars categorized both novel combinations of familiar elements as well as strings consisting of novel element types by their underlying structure. They thus abstracted the relation among items in the XYX and XXY structures, an ability similar to that shown by human infants and indicating a level of abstraction comparable to analogical reasoning. PMID:27325756

  6. Estradiol and song affect female zebra finch behavior independent of dopamine in the striatum

    PubMed Central

    Svec, Lace A.; Lookingland, Keith J.; Wade, Juli

    2009-01-01

    Female songbirds display preferences for certain song characteristics, but the neural and hormonal mechanisms mediating these preferences are not fully clear. The present study sought to further explore the role of estradiol, as well as assess potential roles of dopaminergic systems, on behavioral responses to song. Adult female zebra finches were treated with estradiol and exposed to tutored or untutored song or silence. Behavior was quantified and neurochemistry of the nucleus accumbens and striatum was examined with high performance liquid chromatography. As a control, the responses of these two systems to treatment with raclopride, a specific D2 receptor antagonist, were also evaluated. This manipulation did not affect dopamine (DA), but did increase DOPAC and the DOPAC/DA ratio. Estradiol reduced the display of two behaviors, distance calls and visual scanning, but had no effect on dopaminergic responses. Auditory stimulus exposure affected other vocalizations, but song presentation did not modulate the levels of DA or its metabolite, DOPAC in the nucleus accumbens or striatum. Collectively, the results suggest that both estradiol and auditory stimuli can modify the behavioral responses of adult zebra finches, but they may not change DA concentration or turnover in striatal dopamine neurons. PMID:19615392

  7. Autoradiographic localization of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain of the zebra finch (Poephila guttata)

    SciTech Connect

    Watson, J.T.; Adkins-Regan, E.; Whiting, P.; Lindstrom, J.M.; Podleski, T.R.

    1988-08-08

    We have localized nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the zebra finch brain by using three 125I-labelled ligands: alpha bungarotoxin and two monoclonal antibodies to neuronal nicotinic receptors. Unfixed brains from intact adult male and female zebra finches were prepared for in vitro autoradiography. Low-resolution film autoradiograms and high-resolution emulsion autoradiograms were prepared for each of the three ligands. The major brain structures that bind all three of the ligands are hippocampus; hyperstriatum dorsalis; hyperstriatum ventralis; nucleus lentiformis mesencephali; nucleus pretectalis, some layers of the optic tectum; nucleus mesencephalicus lateralis; pars dorsalis; locus ceruleus; and all cranial motor nuclei except nucleus nervi hypoglossi. The major structures labelled only by (125I)-alpha bungarotoxin binding included hyperstriatum accessorium and the nuclei: preopticus medialis, medialis hypothalami posterioris, semilunaris, olivarius inferior, and the periventricular organ. Of the song control nuclei, nucleus magnocellularis of the anterior neostriatum; hyperstriatum ventralis, pars caudalis; nucleus intercollicularis; and nucleus hypoglossus were labelled. The binding patterns of the two antibodies were similar to one another but not identical. Both labelled nucleus spiriformis lateralis and nucleus geniculatus lateralis, pars ventralis especially heavily and also labelled the nucleus habenula medialis; nucleus subpretectalis; nucleus isthmi, pars magnocellularis; nucleus reticularis gigantocellularis; nucleus reticularis lateralis; nucleus tractus solitarii; nucleus vestibularis dorsolateralis; nucleus vestibularis lateralis; nucleus descendens nervi trigemini; and the deep cerebellar nuclei.

  8. Budgerigars and zebra finches differ in how they generalize in an artificial grammar learning experiment

    PubMed Central

    Spierings, Michelle J.; ten Cate, Carel

    2016-01-01

    The ability to abstract a regularity that underlies strings of sounds is a core mechanism of the language faculty but might not be specific to language learning or even to humans. It is unclear whether and to what extent nonhuman animals possess the ability to abstract regularities defining the relation among arbitrary auditory items in a string and to generalize this abstraction to strings of acoustically novel items. In this study we tested these abilities in a songbird (zebra finch) and a parrot species (budgerigar). Subjects were trained in a go/no-go design to discriminate between two sets of sound strings arranged in an XYX or an XXY structure. After this discrimination was acquired, each subject was tested with test strings that were structurally identical to the training strings but consisted of either new combinations of known elements or of novel elements belonging to other element categories. Both species learned to discriminate between the two stimulus sets. However, their responses to the test strings were strikingly different. Zebra finches categorized test stimuli with previously heard elements by the ordinal position that these elements occupied in the training strings, independent of string structure. In contrast, the budgerigars categorized both novel combinations of familiar elements as well as strings consisting of novel element types by their underlying structure. They thus abstracted the relation among items in the XYX and XXY structures, an ability similar to that shown by human infants and indicating a level of abstraction comparable to analogical reasoning. PMID:27325756

  9. Dopamine physiology in the basal ganglia of male zebra finches during social stimulation

    PubMed Central

    Ihle, Eva C; van der Hart, Marieke; Jongsma, Minke; Tecott, Larry H; Doupe, Allison J

    2015-01-01

    Accumulating evidence suggests that dopamine (DA) is involved in altering neural activity and gene expression in a zebra finch cortical–basal ganglia circuit specialized for singing, upon the shift between solitary singing and singing as a part of courtship. Our objective here was to sample changes in the extracellular concentrations of DA in Area X of adult and juvenile birds, to test the hypothesis that DA levels would change similarly during presentation of a socially salient stimulus in both age groups. We used microdialysis to sample the extracellular milieu of Area X in awake, behaving adult and juvenile male zebra finches, and analysed the dialysate using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrochemical detection. The extracellular levels of DA in Area X increased significantly during both female presentation to adult males and tutor presentation to juvenile males. DA levels were not correlated with the time spent singing. We also reverse-dialysed Area X with pharmacologic agents that act either on DA systems directly or on norepinephrine, and found that all of these agents significantly increased DA levels (3- to 10-fold) in Area X. These findings suggest that changes in extracellular DA levels can be stimulated similarly by very different social contexts (courtship and interaction with tutor), and influenced potently by dopaminergic and noradrenergic drugs. These results raise the possibility that the arousal level or attentional state of the subject (rather than singing behavior) is the common feature eliciting changes in extracellular DA concentration. PMID:25872575

  10. Discrimination of dynamic moving ripples in the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Osmanski, Michael S.; Dooling, Robert J.; Depireux, Didier A.

    2002-05-01

    Auditory processing of complex broadband sounds known as moving ripples has been studied both physiologically at the cortical level in mammals and psychophysically in humans [Depireux et al. (2001); Chi et al. (1999)]. These stimuli share spectro-temporal properties with many natural sounds, including species-specific vocalizations and the formant transitions of human speech [Versnel and Shamma (1998)]. One test of the generality of ripple processing beyond mammals would be to examine a non-mammalian species. Zebra finches may be excellent subjects for such a study because they produce complex broadband harmonic songs and neuronal responses in their auditory forebrain may be exquisitely tuned to the specific spectro-temporal patterns of their songs [Theunnissen and Doupe (1998)]. We trained these birds to discriminate between flat-spectrum broadband noise and moving ripples of different densities that move up or down in frequency at various rates. Results show that discrimination in zebra finches is better at those ripple densities and velocities which are prominent in their species-specific harmonic vocalizations. [Work supported by NIH Grant No. DC-00198 to RJD and NIDCD Training Grant No. DC-00046.

  11. Juvenile zebra finches learn the underlying structural regularities of their fathers’ song

    PubMed Central

    Menyhart, Otília; Kolodny, Oren; Goldstein, Michael H.; DeVoogd, Timothy J.; Edelman, Shimon

    2015-01-01

    Natural behaviors, such as foraging, tool use, social interaction, birdsong, and language, exhibit branching sequential structure. Such structure should be learnable if it can be inferred from the statistics of early experience. We report that juvenile zebra finches learn such sequential structure in song. Song learning in finches has been extensively studied, and it is generally believed that young males acquire song by imitating tutors (Zann, 1996). Variability in the order of elements in an individual’s mature song occurs, but the degree to which variation in a zebra finch’s song follows statistical regularities has not been quantified, as it has typically been dismissed as production error (Sturdy et al., 1999). Allowing for the possibility that such variation in song is non-random and learnable, we applied a novel analytical approach, based on graph-structured finite-state grammars, to each individual’s full corpus of renditions of songs. This method does not assume syllable-level correspondence between individuals. We find that song variation can be described by probabilistic finite-state graph grammars that are individually distinct, and that the graphs of juveniles are more similar to those of their fathers than to those of other adult males. This grammatical learning is a new parallel between birdsong and language. Our method can be applied across species and contexts to analyze complex variable learned behaviors, as distinct as foraging, tool use, and language. PMID:26005428

  12. In Vivo Recording of Single-Unit Activity during Singing in Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Okubo, Tatsuo S.; Mackevicius, Emily L.; Fee, Michale S.

    2015-01-01

    The zebra finch is an important model for investigating the neural mechanisms that underlie vocal production and learning. Previous anatomical and gene expression studies have identified an interconnected set of brain areas in this organism that are important for singing. To advance our understanding of how these various brain areas act together to learn and produce a highly stereotyped song, it is necessary to record the activity of individual neurons during singing. Here, we present a protocol for recording single-unit activity in freely moving zebra finches during singing using a miniature, motorized microdrive. It includes procedures for both the microdrive implant surgery and the electrophysiological recordings. There are several advantages of this technique: (1) high-impedance electrodes can be used in the microdrive to obtain well-isolated single units; (2) a motorized microdrive is used to remotely control the electrode position, allowing neurons to be isolated without handling the bird, and (3) a lateral positioner is used to move electrodes into fresh tissue before each penetration, allowing recordings from well-isolated neurons over the course of several weeks. We also describe the application of the antidromic stimulation and the spike collision test to identify neurons based on the axonal projection patterns. PMID:25342072

  13. Sex steroid profiles and pair-maintenance behavior of captive wild-caught zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Prior, Nora H; Yap, Kang Nian; Adomat, Hans H; Mainwaring, Mark C; Fokidis, H Bobby; Guns, Emma S; Buchanan, Katherine L; Griffith, Simon C; Soma, Kiran K

    2016-01-01

    Here, we studied the life-long monogamous zebra finch, to examine the relationship between circulating sex steroid profiles and pair-maintenance behavior in pairs of wild-caught zebra finches (paired in the laboratory for >1 month). We used liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to examine a total of eight androgens and progestins [pregnenolone, progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenediol, pregnan-3,17-diol-20-one, androsterone, androstanediol, and testosterone]. In the plasma, only pregnenolone, progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone were above the limit of quantification. Sex steroid profiles were similar between males and females, with only circulating progesterone levels significantly different between the sexes (female > male). Circulating pregnenolone levels were high in both sexes, suggesting that pregnenolone might serve as a circulating prohormone for local steroid synthesis in zebra finches. Furthermore, circulating testosterone levels were extremely low in both sexes. Additionally, we found no correlations between circulating steroid levels and pair-maintenance behavior. Taken together, our data raise several interesting questions about the neuroendocrinology of zebra finches. PMID:26610331

  14. No heightened condition dependence of zebra finch ornaments--a quantitative genetic approach.

    PubMed

    Bolund, E; Schielzeth, H; Forstmeier, W

    2010-03-01

    The developmental stress hypothesis offers a mechanism to maintain honesty of sexually selected ornaments, because only high quality individuals will be able to develop full ornamentation in the face of stress during early development. Experimental tests of this hypothesis have traditionally involved the manipulation of one aspect of the rearing conditions and an examination of effects on adult traits. Here, we instead use a statistically powerful quantitative genetic approach to detect condition dependence. We use animal models to estimate environmental correlations between a measure of early growth and adult traits. This way, we could make use of the sometimes dramatic differences in early growth of more than 800 individually cross-fostered birds and measure the effect on a total of 23 different traits after birds reached maturity. We find strong effects of environmental growth conditions on adult body size, body mass and fat deposition, moderate effects on beak colour in both sexes, but no effect on song and plumage characters. Rather surprisingly, there was no effect on male attractiveness, both measured in mate choice trials and under socially complex conditions in aviaries. There was a trend for a positive effect of good growth conditions on the success at fertilizing eggs in males breeding in aviaries whereas longevity was not affected in either sex. We conclude that zebra finches are remarkably resilient to food shortage during growth and can compensate for poor growth conditions without much apparent life-history trade-offs. Our results do not support the hypothesis that sexually selected traits show heightened condition dependence compared to nonsexually selected traits. PMID:20074304

  15. De novo establishment of wild-type song culture in the zebra finch.

    PubMed

    Fehér, Olga; Wang, Haibin; Saar, Sigal; Mitra, Partha P; Tchernichovski, Ofer

    2009-05-28

    Culture is typically viewed as consisting of traits inherited epigenetically, through social learning. However, cultural diversity has species-typical constraints, presumably of genetic origin. A celebrated, if contentious, example is whether a universal grammar constrains syntactic diversity in human languages. Oscine songbirds exhibit song learning and provide biologically tractable models of culture: members of a species show individual variation in song and geographically separated groups have local song dialects. Different species exhibit distinct song cultures, suggestive of genetic constraints. Without such constraints, innovations and copying errors should cause unbounded variation over multiple generations or geographical distance, contrary to observations. Here we report an experiment designed to determine whether wild-type song culture might emerge over multiple generations in an isolated colony founded by isolates, and, if so, how this might happen and what type of social environment is required. Zebra finch isolates, unexposed to singing males during development, produce song with characteristics that differ from the wild-type song found in laboratory or natural colonies. In tutoring lineages starting from isolate founders, we quantified alterations in song across tutoring generations in two social environments: tutor-pupil pairs in sound-isolated chambers and an isolated semi-natural colony. In both settings, juveniles imitated the isolate tutors but changed certain characteristics of the songs. These alterations accumulated over learning generations. Consequently, songs evolved towards the wild-type in three to four generations. Thus, species-typical song culture can appear de novo. Our study has parallels with language change and evolution. In analogy to models in quantitative genetics, we model song culture as a multigenerational phenotype partly encoded genetically in an isolate founding population, influenced by environmental variables and taking

  16. Effectiveness of the GnRH agonist Deslorelin as a tool to decrease levels of circulating testosterone in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Murphy, Karagh; Wilson, David A; Burton, Mark; Slaugh, Shayla; Dunning, Jeffery L; Prather, Jonathan F

    2015-10-01

    Songbirds are widely used in studies of the neurobiology underlying learning, memory and performance of the sounds used in vocal communication. Development and activity of neurons in many brain sites implicated in those behaviors are closely related to levels of circulating testosterone. Approaches to understand the effects of testosterone in songbirds are presently limited to testosterone implants, which elevate testosterone levels to supraphysiological values, or castration, which eliminates gonadal production of testosterone. Previous studies in mammals indicate that GnRH agonists may be an effective tool to reduce testosterone within that range of extremes and without invasive surgery. To evaluate the effectiveness of the GnRH agonist Deslorelin as a tool to modulate levels of testosterone in songbirds, we recorded the effects of Deslorelin in adult male zebra finches. We recorded songs, body mass and blood testosterone levels pre-treatment, then we gave each bird a small subcutaneous implant of Deslorelin. We measured blood plasma testosterone levels weekly and recorded song behavior and gross morphology of brain, testes and heart at the end of each experiment. Testosterone levels were reduced at the 5mg/kg dose, and the very slight song changes we observed at that dose were like those reported for castrated zebra finches. As expected, there were no changes in the number of cells in androgen-sensitive brain structures. Suppression of testosterone at the 5mg/kg dose was reversible through implant removal. Thus, Deslorelin is a new tool to transiently suppress testosterone levels without the invasiveness and undesirable aftereffects of surgical castration. PMID:26391838

  17. “Bird Song Metronomics”: Isochronous Organization of Zebra Finch Song Rhythm

    PubMed Central

    Norton, Philipp; Scharff, Constance

    2016-01-01

    The human capacity for speech and vocal music depends on vocal imitation. Songbirds, in contrast to non-human primates, share this vocal production learning with humans. The process through which birds and humans learn many of their vocalizations as well as the underlying neural system exhibit a number of striking parallels and have been widely researched. In contrast, rhythm, a key feature of language, and music, has received surprisingly little attention in songbirds. Investigating temporal periodicity in bird song has the potential to inform the relationship between neural mechanisms and behavioral output and can also provide insight into the biology and evolution of musicality. Here we present a method to analyze birdsong for an underlying rhythmic regularity. Using the intervals from one note onset to the next as input, we found for each bird an isochronous sequence of time stamps, a “signal-derived pulse,” or pulseS, of which a subset aligned with all note onsets of the bird's song. Fourier analysis corroborated these results. To determine whether this finding was just a byproduct of the duration of notes and intervals typical for zebra finches but not dependent on the individual duration of elements and the sequence in which they are sung, we compared natural songs to models of artificial songs. Note onsets of natural song deviated from the pulseS significantly less than those of artificial songs with randomized note and gap durations. Thus, male zebra finch song has the regularity required for a listener to extract a perceived pulse (pulseP), as yet untested. Strikingly, in our study, pulsesS that best fit note onsets often also coincided with the transitions between sub-note elements within complex notes, corresponding to neuromuscular gestures. Gesture durations often equaled one or more pulseS periods. This suggests that gesture duration constitutes the basic element of the temporal hierarchy of zebra finch song rhythm, an interesting parallel to the

  18. Kinematics of flap-bounding flight in the zebra finch over a wide range of speeds

    PubMed

    Tobalske; Peacock; Dial

    1999-07-01

    It has been proposed elsewhere that flap-bounding, an intermittent flight style consisting of flapping phases interspersed with flexed-wing bounds, should offer no savings in average mechanical power relative to continuous flapping unless a bird flies 1.2 times faster than its maximum range speed (Vmr). Why do some species use intermittent bounds at speeds slower than 1.2Vmr? The 'fixed-gear hypothesis' suggests that flap-bounding is used to vary mean power output in small birds that are otherwise constrained by muscle physiology and wing anatomy to use a fixed muscle shortening velocity and pattern of wing motion at all flight speeds; the 'body-lift hypothesis' suggests that some weight support during bounds could make flap-bounding flight aerodynamically advantageous in comparison with continuous flapping over most forward flight speeds. To test these predictions, we studied high-speed film recordings (300 Hz) of wing and body motion in zebra finches (Taenopygia guttata, mean mass 13.2 g, N=4) taken as the birds flew in a variable-speed wind tunnel (0-14 m s-1). The zebra finches used flap-bounding flight at all speeds, so their flight style was unique compared with that of birds that facultatively shift from continuous flapping or flap-gliding at slow speeds to flap-bounding at fast speeds. There was a significant effect of flight speed on all measured aspects of wing motion except percentage of the wingbeat spent in downstroke. Changes in angular velocity of the wing indicated that contractile velocity in the pectoralis muscle changed with flight speed, which is not consistent with the fixed-gear hypothesis. Although variation in stroke-plane angle relative to the body, pronation angle of the wing and wing span at mid-upstroke showed that the zebra finch changed within-wingbeat geometries according to speed, a vortex-ring gait with a feathered upstroke appeared to be the only gait used during flapping. In contrast, two small species that use continuous flapping

  19. Personality over ontogeny in zebra finches: long-term repeatable traits but unstable behavioural syndromes

    PubMed Central

    2015-01-01

    A crucial assumption of animal personality research is that behaviour is consistent over time, showing a high repeatability within individuals. This assumption is often made, sometimes tested using short time intervals between behavioural tests, but rarely thoroughly investigated across long time intervals crossing different stages of ontogeny. We performed such a longitudinal test across three life stages in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), representing about 15-20% of their life span in captivity, and found repeatabilities ranging from 0.03 to 0.67. Fearlessness and exploration were the most repeatable traits both within and across life stages. Activity and aggression were repeatable across, but not or only partly within life stages. Boldness was not repeatable. Furthermore, we found no evidence for a consistent behavioural syndrome structure across ontogeny. Our results indicate that the consistency of behavioural traits and their correlations might be overestimated and suggest that life-long stability of animal personality should not simply be assumed. PMID:26813709

  20. Patterns of call communication between group-housed zebra finches change during the breeding cycle.

    PubMed

    Gill, Lisa F; Goymann, Wolfgang; Ter Maat, Andries; Gahr, Manfred

    2015-01-01

    Vocal signals such as calls play a crucial role for survival and successful reproduction, especially in group-living animals. However, call interactions and call dynamics within groups remain largely unexplored because their relation to relevant contexts or life-history stages could not be studied with individual-level resolution. Using on-bird microphone transmitters, we recorded the vocalisations of individual zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) behaving freely in social groups, while females and males previously unknown to each other passed through different stages of the breeding cycle. As birds formed pairs and shifted their reproductive status, their call repertoire composition changed. The recordings revealed that calls occurred non-randomly in fine-tuned vocal interactions and decreased within groups while pair-specific patterns emerged. Call-type combinations of vocal interactions changed within pairs and were associated with successful egg-laying, highlighting a potential fitness relevance of calling dynamics in communication systems. PMID:26441403

  1. BDNF increases BrdU-IR cells in the injured adult zebra finch hippocampus.

    PubMed

    Lucas, Nikola N; Lee, Diane W

    2009-08-01

    Steroid-mediated cell proliferation, differentiation, and survival can be triggered by learning, experience, and brain injury. In the uninjured canary song system, testosterone induces cell proliferation that is blocked by an antibody to brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). However, little is known with regard to the effects of neurotrophic factors on injury-induced cell proliferation and incorporation. To address this, adult male zebra finches received bilateral hippocampal lesions by infusing saline into one hemisphere and BDNF into the other. BrdU (2-bromo-5-deoxyuridine) was then injected to label mitotic cells. A greater number of BrdU-immunoreactive (BrdU-IR) cells were observed in the BDNF-treated hemisphere in the hippocampus, but not in the septum or stem cell-rich subventricular zone, indicating that BDNF promoted localized cell proliferation and incorporation at the injury site only. PMID:19512953

  2. Population-Level Representation of a Temporal Sequence Underlying Song Production in the Zebra Finch.

    PubMed

    Picardo, Michel A; Merel, Josh; Katlowitz, Kalman A; Vallentin, Daniela; Okobi, Daniel E; Benezra, Sam E; Clary, Rachel C; Pnevmatikakis, Eftychios A; Paninski, Liam; Long, Michael A

    2016-05-18

    The zebra finch brain features a set of clearly defined and hierarchically arranged motor nuclei that are selectively responsible for producing singing behavior. One of these regions, a critical forebrain structure called HVC, contains premotor neurons that are active at precise time points during song production. However, the neural representation of this behavior at a population level remains elusive. We used two-photon microscopy to monitor ensemble activity during singing, integrating across multiple trials by adopting a Bayesian inference approach to more precisely estimate burst timing. Additionally, we examined spiking and motor-related synaptic inputs using intracellular recordings during singing. With both experimental approaches, we find that premotor events do not occur preferentially at the onsets or offsets of song syllables or at specific subsyllabic motor landmarks. These results strongly support the notion that HVC projection neurons collectively exhibit a temporal sequence during singing that is uncoupled from ongoing movements. PMID:27196976

  3. Personality over ontogeny in zebra finches: long-term repeatable traits but unstable behavioural syndromes.

    PubMed

    Wuerz, Yvonne; Krüger, Oliver

    2015-01-01

    A crucial assumption of animal personality research is that behaviour is consistent over time, showing a high repeatability within individuals. This assumption is often made, sometimes tested using short time intervals between behavioural tests, but rarely thoroughly investigated across long time intervals crossing different stages of ontogeny. We performed such a longitudinal test across three life stages in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), representing about 15-20% of their life span in captivity, and found repeatabilities ranging from 0.03 to 0.67. Fearlessness and exploration were the most repeatable traits both within and across life stages. Activity and aggression were repeatable across, but not or only partly within life stages. Boldness was not repeatable. Furthermore, we found no evidence for a consistent behavioural syndrome structure across ontogeny. Our results indicate that the consistency of behavioural traits and their correlations might be overestimated and suggest that life-long stability of animal personality should not simply be assumed. PMID:26813709

  4. Sex-Specific Audience Effect in the Context of Mate Choice in Zebra Finches.

    PubMed

    Kniel, Nina; Bender, Stefanie; Witte, Klaudia

    2016-01-01

    Animals observing conspecifics during mate choice can gain additional information about potential mates. However, the presence of an observer, if detected by the observed individuals, can influence the nature of the behavior of the observed individuals, called audience effect. In zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis), domesticated males show an audience effect during mate choice. However, whether male and female descendants of the wild form show an audience effect during mate choice is unknown. Therefore, we conducted an experiment where male and female focal birds could choose between two distinctive phenotypes of the opposite sex, an artificially adorned stimulus bird with a red feather on the forehead and an unadorned stimulus bird, two times consecutively, once without an audience and once with an audience bird (same sex as test bird). Males showed an audience effect when an audience male was present and spent more time with adorned and less time with unadorned females compared to when there was no audience present. The change in time spent with the respective stimulus females was positively correlated with the time that the audience male spent in front of its cage close to the focal male. Females showed no change in mate choice when an audience female was present, but their motivation to associate with both stimulus males decreased. In a control for mate-choice consistency there was no audience in either test. Here, both focal females and focal males chose consistently without a change in choosing motivation. Our results showed that there is an audience effect on mate choice in zebra finches and that the response to a same-sex audience was sex-specific. PMID:26839957

  5. Natural melatonin fluctuation and its minimally invasive simulation in the zebra finch.

    PubMed

    Seltmann, Susanne; Trost, Lisa; Ter Maat, Andries; Gahr, Manfred

    2016-01-01

    Melatonin is a key hormone in the regulation of circadian rhythms of vertebrates, including songbirds. Understanding diurnal melatonin fluctuations and being able to reverse or simulate natural melatonin levels are critical to investigating the influence of melatonin on various behaviors such as singing in birds. Here we give a detailed overview of natural fluctuations in plasma melatonin concentration throughout the night in the zebra finch. As shown in previous studies, we confirm that "lights off" initiates melatonin production at night in a natural situation. Notably, we find that melatonin levels return to daytime levels as early as two hours prior to the end of the dark-phase in some individuals and 30 min before "lights on" in all animals, suggesting that the presence of light in the morning is not essential for cessation of melatonin production in zebra finches. Thus, the duration of melatonin production seems not to be specified by the length of night and might therefore be less likely to directly couple circadian and annual rhythms. Additionally, we show that natural melatonin levels can be successfully simulated through a combination of light-treatment (daytime levels during subjective night) and the application of melatonin containing skin-cream (nighttime levels during subjective day). Moreover, natural levels and their fluctuation in the transition from day to night can be imitated, enabling the decoupling of the effects of melatonin, for example on neuronal activity, from sleep and circadian rhythmicity. Taken together, our high-resolution profile of natural melatonin levels and manipulation techniques open up new possibilities to answer various melatonin related questions in songbirds. PMID:27123378

  6. Myosin heavy-chain isoforms in the flight and leg muscles of hummingbirds and zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Velten, Brandy P; Welch, Kenneth C

    2014-06-01

    Myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform complement is intimately related to a muscle's contractile properties, yet relatively little is known about avian MHC isoforms or how they may vary with fiber type and/or the contractile properties of a muscle. The rapid shortening of muscles necessary to power flight at the high wingbeat frequencies of ruby-throated hummingbirds and zebra finches (25-60 Hz), along with the varied morphology and use of the hummingbird hindlimb, provides a unique opportunity to understand how contractile and morphological properties of avian muscle may be reflected in MHC expression. Isoforms of the hummingbird and zebra finch flight and hindlimb muscles were electrophoretically separated and compared with those of other avian species representing different contractile properties and fiber types. The flight muscles of the study species operate at drastically different contraction rates and are composed of different histochemically defined fiber types, yet each exhibited the same, single MHC isoform corresponding to the chicken adult fast isoform. Thus, despite quantitative differences in the contractile demands of flight muscles across species, this isoform appears necessary for meeting the performance demands of avian powered flight. Variation in flight muscle contractile performance across species may be due to differences in the structural composition of this conserved isoform and/or variation within other mechanically linked proteins. The leg muscles were more varied in their MHC isoform composition across both muscles and species. The disparity in hindlimb MHC expression between hummingbirds and the other species highlights previously observed differences in fiber type composition and thrust production during take-off. PMID:24671242

  7. Natural melatonin fluctuation and its minimally invasive simulation in the zebra finch

    PubMed Central

    Trost, Lisa; Ter Maat, Andries; Gahr, Manfred

    2016-01-01

    Melatonin is a key hormone in the regulation of circadian rhythms of vertebrates, including songbirds. Understanding diurnal melatonin fluctuations and being able to reverse or simulate natural melatonin levels are critical to investigating the influence of melatonin on various behaviors such as singing in birds. Here we give a detailed overview of natural fluctuations in plasma melatonin concentration throughout the night in the zebra finch. As shown in previous studies, we confirm that “lights off” initiates melatonin production at night in a natural situation. Notably, we find that melatonin levels return to daytime levels as early as two hours prior to the end of the dark-phase in some individuals and 30 min before “lights on” in all animals, suggesting that the presence of light in the morning is not essential for cessation of melatonin production in zebra finches. Thus, the duration of melatonin production seems not to be specified by the length of night and might therefore be less likely to directly couple circadian and annual rhythms. Additionally, we show that natural melatonin levels can be successfully simulated through a combination of light-treatment (daytime levels during subjective night) and the application of melatonin containing skin-cream (nighttime levels during subjective day). Moreover, natural levels and their fluctuation in the transition from day to night can be imitated, enabling the decoupling of the effects of melatonin, for example on neuronal activity, from sleep and circadian rhythmicity. Taken together, our high-resolution profile of natural melatonin levels and manipulation techniques open up new possibilities to answer various melatonin related questions in songbirds. PMID:27123378

  8. Sex-Specific Audience Effect in the Context of Mate Choice in Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Kniel, Nina; Bender, Stefanie; Witte, Klaudia

    2016-01-01

    Animals observing conspecifics during mate choice can gain additional information about potential mates. However, the presence of an observer, if detected by the observed individuals, can influence the nature of the behavior of the observed individuals, called audience effect. In zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis), domesticated males show an audience effect during mate choice. However, whether male and female descendants of the wild form show an audience effect during mate choice is unknown. Therefore, we conducted an experiment where male and female focal birds could choose between two distinctive phenotypes of the opposite sex, an artificially adorned stimulus bird with a red feather on the forehead and an unadorned stimulus bird, two times consecutively, once without an audience and once with an audience bird (same sex as test bird). Males showed an audience effect when an audience male was present and spent more time with adorned and less time with unadorned females compared to when there was no audience present. The change in time spent with the respective stimulus females was positively correlated with the time that the audience male spent in front of its cage close to the focal male. Females showed no change in mate choice when an audience female was present, but their motivation to associate with both stimulus males decreased. In a control for mate-choice consistency there was no audience in either test. Here, both focal females and focal males chose consistently without a change in choosing motivation. Our results showed that there is an audience effect on mate choice in zebra finches and that the response to a same-sex audience was sex-specific. PMID:26839957

  9. Pair Bond Formation is Impaired by VPAC Receptor Antagonism in the Socially Monogamous Zebra Finch

    PubMed Central

    Kingsbury, Marcy A.; Goodson, James L.

    2014-01-01

    A variety of recent data demonstrate that vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and VPAC receptors (which bind VIP, and to a lesser extent, pituitary adenylatecyclase activating peptide) are important for numerous social behaviors in songbirds, including grouping and aggression, although VIP relates to these behaviors in a site-specific manner. In order to determine the global effects of central VPAC receptor activation on social behavior, we here infused a VPAC receptor antagonist or vehicle twice daily into the lateral ventricle of colony-housed male and female zebra finches and quantified a wide range of behaviors. Aggressive behaviors were not altered by ventricular infusions, consistent with known opposing, site-specific relationships of VIP innervation to aggression. Courtship and self-maintenance behaviors were likewise not altered. However, VPAC antagonism produced significant deficits in pair bonding. Antagonist subjects took longer to form a pair bond and were paired for significantly fewer observation sessions relative to control subjects (median 1.5 of 6 observation sessions for antagonist subjects versus 4 for control subjects). Antagonist subjects were also significantly less likely to be paired in the final observation session. Based on the known distribution of VPAC receptors in finches and other vertebrates, we propose that VPAC receptors may mediate pair bonding via a variety of brain areas that are known to be important for the establishment of partner preferences in voles, including the lateral septum, ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum. PMID:25014003

  10. Long-Distance Retinoid Signaling in the Zebra Finch Brain

    PubMed Central

    Roeske, Tina C.; Scharff, Constance; Olson, Christopher R.; Nshdejan, Arpik; Mello, Claudio V.

    2014-01-01

    All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), the main active metabolite of vitamin A, is a powerful signaling molecule that regulates large-scale morphogenetic processes during vertebrate embryonic development, but is also involved post-natally in regulating neural plasticity and cognition. In songbirds, it plays an important role in the maturation of learned song. The distribution of the ATRA-synthesizing enzyme, zRalDH, and of ATRA receptors (RARs) have been described, but information on the distribution of other components of the retinoid signaling pathway is still lacking. To address this gap, we have determined the expression patterns of two obligatory RAR co-receptors, the retinoid X receptors (RXR) α and γ, and of the three ATRA-degrading cytochromes CYP26A1, CYP26B1, and CYP26C1. We have also studied the distribution of zRalDH protein using immunohistochemistry, and generated a refined map of ATRA localization, using a modified reporter cell assay to examine entire brain sections. Our results show that (1) ATRA is more broadly distributed in the brain than previously predicted by the spatially restricted distribution of zRalDH transcripts. This could be due to long-range transport of zRalDH enzyme between different nuclei of the song system: Experimental lesions of putative zRalDH peptide source regions diminish ATRA-induced transcription in target regions. (2) Four telencephalic song nuclei express different and specific subsets of retinoid-related receptors and could be targets of retinoid regulation; in the case of the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium (lMAN), receptor expression is dynamically regulated in a circadian and age-dependent manner. (3) High-order auditory areas exhibit a complex distribution of transcripts representing ATRA synthesizing and degrading enzymes and could also be a target of retinoid signaling. Together, our survey across multiple connected song nuclei and auditory brain regions underscores the prominent role of

  11. Masculinisation of the Zebra Finch Song System: Roles of Oestradiol and the Z-chromosome Gene Tubulin-Specific Chaperone Protein A

    PubMed Central

    Beach, L. Q.; Wade, J.

    2015-01-01

    Robust sex differences in brain and behaviour exist in zebra finches. Only males sing, and forebrain song control regions are more developed in males. The factors driving these differences are not clear, although numerous experiments have shown that oestradiol (E2) administered to female hatchlings partially masculinises brain and behaviour. Recent studies suggest that an increased expression of Z-chromosome genes in males (ZZ; females: ZW) might also play a role. The Z-gene tubulin-specific chaperone A (TBCA) exhibits increased expression in the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium (LMAN) of juvenile males compared to females; TBCA+ cells project to the robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA). In the present study, we investigated the role of TBCA and tested hypotheses with respect to the interactive or additive effects of E2 and TBCA. We first examined whether E2 in hatchling zebra finches modulates TBCA expression in the LMAN. It affected neither the mRNA, nor protein in either sex. We then unilaterally delivered TBCA small interfering (si)RNA to the LMAN of developing females treated with E2 or vehicle and males treated with the aromatase inhibitor, fadrozole, or its control. In both sexes, decreasing TBCA in LMAN reduced RA cell number, cell size and volume. It also decreased LMAN volume in females. Fadrozole in males increased LMAN volume and RA cell size. TBCA siRNA delivered to the LMAN also decreased the projection from this brain region to the RA, as indicated by anterograde tract tracing. The results suggest that TBCA is involved in masculinising the song system. However, because no interactions between the siRNA and hormone manipulations were detected, TBCA does not appear to modulate effects of E2 in the zebra finch song circuit. PMID:25702708

  12. Housing conditions and sacrifice protocol affect neural activity and vocal behavior in a songbird species, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Elie, Julie Estelle; Soula, Hédi Antoine; Trouvé, Colette; Mathevon, Nicolas; Vignal, Clémentine

    2015-12-01

    Individual cages represent a widely used housing condition in laboratories. This isolation represents an impoverished physical and social environment in gregarious animals. It prevents animals from socializing, even when auditory and visual contact is maintained. Zebra finches are colonial songbirds that are widely used as laboratory animals for the study of vocal communication from brain to behavior. In this study, we investigated the effect of single housing on the vocal behavior and the brain activity of male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata): male birds housed in individual cages were compared to freely interacting male birds housed as a social group in a communal cage. We focused on the activity of septo-hypothalamic regions of the "social behavior network" (SBN), a set of limbic regions involved in several social behaviors in vertebrates. The activity of four structures of the SBN (BSTm, medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis; POM, medial preoptic area; lateral septum; ventromedial hypothalamus) and one associated region (paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus) was assessed using immunoreactive nuclei density of the immediate early gene Zenk (egr-1). We further assessed the identity of active cell populations by labeling vasotocin (VT). Brain activity was related to behavioral activities of birds like physical and vocal interactions. We showed that individual housing modifies vocal exchanges between birds compared to communal housing. This is of particular importance in the zebra finch, a model species for the study of vocal communication. In addition, a protocol that daily removes one or two birds from the group affects differently male zebra finches depending of their housing conditions: while communally-housed males changed their vocal output, brains of individually housed males show increased Zenk labeling in non-VT cells of the BSTm and enhanced correlation of Zenk-revealed activity between the studied structures. These results show that

  13. Cues for auditory stream segregation of birdsong in budgerigars and zebra finches: Effects of location, timing, amplitude, and frequency.

    PubMed

    Dent, Micheal L; Martin, Amanda K; Flaherty, Mary M; Neilans, Erikson G

    2016-02-01

    Deciphering the auditory scene is a problem faced by many organisms. However, when faced with numerous overlapping sounds from multiple locations, listeners are still able to attribute the individual sound objects to their individual sound-producing sources. Here, the characteristics of sounds important for integrating versus segregating in birds were determined. Budgerigars and zebra finches were trained using operant conditioning procedures on an identification task to peck one key when they heard a whole zebra finch song and to peck another when they heard a zebra finch song missing a middle syllable. Once the birds were trained to a criterion performance level on those stimuli, probe trials were introduced on a small proportion of trials. The probe songs contained modifications of the incomplete training song's missing syllable. When the bird responded as if the probe was a whole song, it suggests they streamed together the altered syllable and the rest of the song. When the bird responded as if the probe was a non-whole song, it suggests they segregated the altered probe from the rest of the song. Results show that some features, such as location and intensity, are more important for segregating than other features, such as timing and frequency. PMID:26936551

  14. Within-year differences in reproductive investment in laboratory zebra finches ( Taeniopygia guttata), an opportunistically breeding bird

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Williamson, Kathryn; Gilbert, Lucy; Rutstein, Alison N.; Pariser, Emma C.; Graves, Jeff A.

    2008-12-01

    Reproduction in opportunistically breeding bird species has traditionally been considered non-seasonal with individuals taking advantage of favourable environmental conditions as they arise. However, some studies imply that this opportunistic breeding may be superimposed on an underlying seasonality, which has effects on the readiness to breed when conditions are favourable. The zebra finch ( Taeniopygia guttata) is the classic opportunistic breeder and widely used as such in studies. In a series of laboratory-based breeding experiments, we found evidence to suggest that there are seasonal differences in maternal reproductive investment in the zebra finch even when photoperiod, temperature, relative humidity and diet were held constant. Females showed highly significant seasonal differences in clutch size and egg mass with laying order. Clutch size showed a spring/summer peak typical of multi-brooded species in the wild. There was also a significant increase in egg mass with laying order in all seasons except winter. This variation in breeding parameters with season may allow females to adjust investment depending on the potential fitness returns from a given reproductive attempt. These findings also raise a warning about interpreting results of multiple zebra finch breeding experiments that have been carried out in different seasons.

  15. Parvalbumin-positive projection neurons characterise the vocal premotor pathway in male, but not female, zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Wild, J M; Williams, M N; Suthers, R A

    2001-11-01

    Parvalbumin (PV) and calbindin (CB) immunoreactivities were assessed in nucleus robustus archistriatalis (RA) of male and female zebra finches, together with retrograde labelling of RA neurons. The results of double and triple labelling experiments suggested that, in males, moderately and faintly PV-positive neurons were projection neurons, but that all intensely PV-positive cells were not. The latter, which are presumably interneurons, were also intensely CB-positive, and may correspond to the GABAergic inhibitory interneurons identified by others. In addition, the complete RA pathway and its terminal fields in the respiratory-vocal nuclei of the brainstem were strongly PV-positive. In female zebra finches, which do not sing, no evidence was found that PV-positive RA cells were projection neurons, yet the pattern of projections of RA neurons, as determined by anterograde transport of biotinylated dextran amine, was very similar to that of RA in males. Moreover, in females, RA neurons retrogradely labelled from injections of cholera toxin B-chain into the tracheosyringeal nucleus (XIIts) were abundant and included, in the lateral part of the nucleus, a population of cells that were as large as those in the male RA. Parvalbumin immunoreactivity was also present in RA and its projections in males of several other songbird species (northern cardinal, brown headed cowbird, canary) and in the female cardinal, which sings to some extent, but the labelling was not as intense as that in male zebra finches. PMID:11640910

  16. Hippocampal Lesions Impair Spatial Memory Performance, but Not Song-A Developmental Study of Independent Memory Systems in the Zebra Finch

    PubMed Central

    Bailey, David J.; Wade, Juli; Saldanha, Colin J.

    2009-01-01

    Songbirds demonstrate song- and spatial-learning, forms of memory that appear distinct in formal characteristics and fitting the descriptions and criteria of procedural and episodic-like memory function, respectively. As in other vertebrates, the neural pathways underlying these forms of memory may also be dissociable, and include the corresponding song circuit and hippocampus (HP). Whether (or not) these two memory systems interact is unknown. Interestingly, the HP distinguishes itself as a site of immediate early gene expression in response to song and as a site of estrogen synthesis, a steroid involved in song learning. Thus, an interaction between these memory systems and their anatomical substrates appears reasonable to hypothesize, particularly during development. To test this idea, juvenile male or female zebra finches received chemical lesions of the HP at various points during song learning, as did adults. Song structure, singing behavior, song preference, and spatial memory were tested in adulthood. Although lesions of the HP severely compromised HP-dependent spatial memory function across all ages and in both sexes, we were unable to detect any effects of HP lesions on song learning, singing, or song structure in males. Interestingly, females lesioned as adults, but not as juveniles, did lose the characteristic preference for their father's song. Since compromise of the neural circuits that subserve episodic-like memory does very little (if anything) to affect procedural-like (song learning) memory, we conclude that these memory systems and their anatomical substrates are well dissociated in the developing male zebra finch. PMID:19280648

  17. Context-Specific Effects of Estradiol on Spatial Learning and Memory in the Zebra Finch

    PubMed Central

    Rensel, M.A.; Salwiczek, L.; Roth, J.; Schlinger, B.A.

    2012-01-01

    Estradiol is known to impact cognitive function including spatial learning and memory, with studies focused largely on rodent models. Estrogens can be produced peripherally or centrally as neuroestrogens, and the specific role for neuroestrogens in memory processes remains unresolved. Many songbirds possess remarkable spatial memory capabilities and also express the estrogen synthetic enzyme aromatase abundantly in the hippocampus, suggesting that locally-produced estrogens may promote the acquisition or retrieval of spatial memories in these birds. We examined the effect of estradiol on spatial memory in three contexts in the zebra finch: retrieval after discrimination training, retrieval after familiarization but without discrimination training, and memory acquisition, using a combination of estradiol implants and oral dosing with the aromatase inhibitor fadrozole (FAD). Retrieval of spatial memory in both contexts was impaired when estradiol production was blocked. However, spatial memory acquisition was enhanced when estradiol production was inhibited whereas estradiol replacement impaired acquisition. These results provide evidence for a context-specific role of estradiol in songbird spatial memory, results that finds accord with some mammalian studies but have not yet been observed in birds. PMID:23257279

  18. Dynamic role of postsynaptic caspase-3 and BIRC4 in zebra finch song-response habituation.

    PubMed

    Huesmann, Graham R; Clayton, David F

    2006-12-21

    Activation of the protease caspase-3 is commonly thought to cause apoptotic cell death. Here, we show that caspase-3 activity is regulated at postsynaptic sites in brain following stimuli associated with memory (neural activation and subsequent response habituation) instead of cell death. In the zebra finch auditory forebrain, the concentration of caspase-3 active sites increases briefly within minutes after exposure to tape-recorded birdsong. With confocal and immunoelectron microscopy, we localize the activated enzyme to dendritic spines. The activated caspase-3 protein is present even in unstimulated brain but bound to an endogenous inhibitor, BIRC4 (xIAP), suggesting a mechanism for rapid release and sequestering at specific synaptic sites. Caspase-3 activity is necessary to consolidate a persistent physiological trace of the song stimulus, as demonstrated using pharmacological interference and the zenk gene habituation assay. Thus, the brain appears to have adapted a core component of cell death machinery to serve a unique role in learning and memory. PMID:17178408

  19. Patterns of call communication between group-housed zebra finches change during the breeding cycle

    PubMed Central

    Gill, Lisa F; Goymann, Wolfgang; Ter Maat, Andries; Gahr, Manfred

    2015-01-01

    Vocal signals such as calls play a crucial role for survival and successful reproduction, especially in group-living animals. However, call interactions and call dynamics within groups remain largely unexplored because their relation to relevant contexts or life-history stages could not be studied with individual-level resolution. Using on-bird microphone transmitters, we recorded the vocalisations of individual zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) behaving freely in social groups, while females and males previously unknown to each other passed through different stages of the breeding cycle. As birds formed pairs and shifted their reproductive status, their call repertoire composition changed. The recordings revealed that calls occurred non-randomly in fine-tuned vocal interactions and decreased within groups while pair-specific patterns emerged. Call-type combinations of vocal interactions changed within pairs and were associated with successful egg-laying, highlighting a potential fitness relevance of calling dynamics in communication systems. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.07770.001 PMID:26441403

  20. Early-Life Stress Triggers Juvenile Zebra Finches to Switch Social Learning Strategies

    PubMed Central

    Farine, Damien R.; Spencer, Karen A.; Boogert, Neeltje J.

    2015-01-01

    Summary Stress during early life can cause disease and cognitive impairment in humans and non-humans alike [1]. However, stress and other environmental factors can also program developmental pathways [2, 3]. We investigate whether differential exposure to developmental stress can drive divergent social learning strategies [4, 5] between siblings. In many species, juveniles acquire essential foraging skills by copying others: they can copy peers (horizontal social learning), learn from their parents (vertical social learning), or learn from other adults (oblique social learning) [6]. However, whether juveniles’ learning strategies are condition dependent largely remains a mystery. We found that juvenile zebra finches living in flocks socially learned novel foraging skills exclusively from adults. By experimentally manipulating developmental stress, we further show that social learning targets are phenotypically plastic. While control juveniles learned foraging skills from their parents, their siblings, exposed as nestlings to experimentally elevated stress hormone levels, learned exclusively from unrelated adults. Thus, early-life conditions triggered individuals to switch strategies from vertical to oblique social learning. This switch could arise from stress-induced differences in developmental rate, cognitive and physical state, or the use of stress as an environmental cue. Acquisition of alternative social learning strategies may impact juveniles’ fit to their environment and ultimately change their developmental trajectories. PMID:26212879

  1. Increased fat catabolism sustains water balance during fasting in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Rutkowska, Joanna; Sadowska, Edyta T; Cichoń, Mariusz; Bauchinger, Ulf

    2016-09-01

    Patterns of physiological flexibility in response to fasting are well established, but much less is known about the contribution of water deprivation to the observed effects. We investigated body composition and energy and water budget in three groups of zebra finches: birds with access to food and water, food-deprived birds having access to drinking water and food-and-water-deprived birds. Animals were not stimulated by elevated energy expenditure and they were in thermoneutral conditions; thus, based on previous studies, water balance of fasting birds was expected to be maintained by increased catabolism of proteins. In contrast to this expectation, we found that access to water did not prevent reduction of proteinaceous tissue, but it saved fat reserves of the fasting birds. Thus, water balance of birds fasting without access to water seemed to be maintained by elevated fat catabolism, which generated 6 times more metabolic water compared with that in birds that had access to water. Therefore, we revise currently established views and propose fat to serve as the primary source for metabolic water production. Previously assumed increased protein breakdown for maintenance of water budget would occur if fat stores were depleted or if fat catabolism reached its upper limits due to high energy demands. PMID:27582561

  2. Behavior-linked FoxP2 regulation enables zebra finch vocal learning.

    PubMed

    Heston, Jonathan B; White, Stephanie A

    2015-02-18

    Mutations in the FOXP2 transcription factor cause an inherited speech and language disorder, but how FoxP2 contributes to learning of these vocal communication signals remains unclear. FoxP2 is enriched in corticostriatal circuits of both human and songbird brains. Experimental knockdown of this enrichment in song control neurons of the zebra finch basal ganglia impairs tutor song imitation, indicating that adequate FoxP2 levels are necessary for normal vocal learning. In unmanipulated birds, vocal practice acutely downregulates FoxP2, leading to increased vocal variability and dynamic regulation of FoxP2 target genes. To determine whether this behavioral regulation is important for song learning, here, we used viral-driven overexpression of FoxP2 to counteract its downregulation. This manipulation disrupted the acute effects of song practice on vocal variability and caused inaccurate song imitation. Together, these findings indicate that dynamic behavior-linked regulation of FoxP2, rather than absolute levels, is critical for vocal learning. PMID:25698728

  3. Dynamic role of postsynaptic caspase-3 and BIRC4 in zebra finch song response habituation

    PubMed Central

    Huesmann, Graham R.; Clayton, David F.

    2007-01-01

    Summary Activation of the protease caspase-3 is commonly thought to cause apoptotic cell death. Here we show that caspase-3 activity is regulated at postsynaptic sites in brain following stimuli associated with memory (neural activation and subsequent response habituation) instead of cell death. In the zebra finch auditory forebrain, the concentration of caspase-3 active sites increases briefly within minutes after exposure to tape-recorded birdsong. With confocal and immunoelectron microscopy, we localize the activated enzyme to dendritic spines. The activated caspase-3 protein is present even in unstimulated brain but bound to an endogenous inhibitor, BIRC4 (xIAP), suggesting a mechanism for rapid release and sequestering at specific synaptic sites. Caspase-3 activity is necessary to consolidate a persistent physiological trace of the song stimulus, as demonstrated using pharmacological interference and the zenk gene habituation assay. Thus the brain appears to have adapted a core component of cell death machinery to serve a unique role in learning and memory. PMID:17178408

  4. Active immunization against vasoactive intestinal polypeptide decreases neuronal recruitment and inhibits reproduction in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Vistoropsky, Yulia; Heiblum, Rachel; Smorodinsky, Nechama-Ina; Barnea, Anat

    2016-08-15

    Neurogenesis and neuronal recruitment occur in adult brains of many vertebrates, and the hypothesis is that these phenomena contribute to the brain plasticity that enables organisms to adjust to environmental changes. In mammals, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) is known to have many neuroprotective properties, but in the avian brain, although widely distributed, its role in neuronal recruitment is not yet understood. In the present study we actively immunized adult zebra finches against VIP conjugated to KLH and compared neuronal recruitment in their brains, with brains of control birds, which were immunized against KLH. We looked at two forebrain regions: the nidopallium caudale (NC), which plays a role in vocal communication, and the hippocampus (HC), which is involved in the processing of spatial information. Our data demonstrate that active immunization against VIP reduces neuronal recruitment, inhibits reproduction, and induces molting, with no change in plasma prolactin levels. Thus, our observations suggest that VIP has a direct positive role in neuronal recruitment and reproduction in birds. J. Comp. Neurol. 524:2516-2528, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. PMID:26801210

  5. Timing of Ossification in Duck, Quail, and Zebra Finch: Intraspecific Variation, Heterochronies, and Life History Evolution

    PubMed Central

    Mitgutsch, Christian; Wimmer, Corinne; Sánchez-Villagra, Marcelo R.; Hahnloser, Richard; Schneider, Richard A.

    2011-01-01

    Skeletogenic heterochronies have gained much attention in comparative developmental biology. The temporal appearance of mineralized individual bones in a species – the species ossification sequence – is an excellent marker in this kind of study. Several publications describe interspecific variation, but only very few detail intraspecific variation. In this study, we describe and analyze the temporal order of ossification of skeletal elements in the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata, the Japanese quail, Coturnix coturnix japonica, and the White Pekin duck, a domestic race of the mallard Anas platyrhynchos, and explore patterns of intraspecific variation in these events. The overall sequences were found to be conserved. In the duck, variability is present in the relative timing of ossification in the occipital, the basisphenoid and the otic regions of the skull and the phalanges in the postcranium. This variation appears generally in close temporal proximity. Comparison with previously published data shows differences in ossification sequence in the skull, the feet, and the pelvis in the duck, and especially the pelvis in the quail. This clearly documents variability among different breeds. PMID:21728797

  6. Metabolic and Respiratory Costs of Increasing Song Amplitude in Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Zollinger, Sue Anne; Goller, Franz; Brumm, Henrik

    2011-01-01

    Bird song is a widely used model in the study of animal communication and sexual selection, and several song features have been shown to reflect the quality of the singer. Recent studies have demonstrated that song amplitude may be an honest signal of current condition in males and that females prefer high amplitude songs. In addition, birds raise the amplitude of their songs to communicate in noisy environments. Although it is generally assumed that louder song should be more costly to produce, there has been little empirical evidence to support this assumption. We tested the assumption by measuring oxygen consumption and respiratory patterns in adult male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) singing at different amplitudes in different background noise conditions. As background noise levels increased, birds significantly increased the sound pressure level of their songs. We found that louder songs required significantly greater subsyringeal air sac pressure than quieter songs. Though increased pressure is probably achieved by increasing respiratory muscle activity, these increases did not correlate with measurable increases in oxygen consumption. In addition, we found that oxygen consumption increased in higher background noise, independent of singing behaviour. This observation supports previous research in mammals showing that high levels of environmental noise can induce physiological stress responses. While our study did not find that increasing vocal amplitude increased metabolic costs, further research is needed to determine whether there are other non-metabolic costs of singing louder or costs associated with chronic noise exposure. PMID:21915258

  7. Inbreeding depression of sperm traits in the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata.

    PubMed

    Opatová, Pavlína; Ihle, Malika; Albrechtová, Jana; Tomášek, Oldřich; Kempenaers, Bart; Forstmeier, Wolfgang; Albrecht, Tomáš

    2016-01-01

    Inbreeding depression, or the reduction in fitness due to mating between close relatives, is a key issue in biology today. Inbreeding negatively affects many fitness-related traits, including survival and reproductive success. Despite this, very few studies have quantified the effects of inbreeding on vertebrate gamete traits under controlled breeding conditions using a full-sib mating approach. Here, we provide comprehensive evidence for the negative effect of inbreeding on sperm traits in a bird, the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata. We compared sperm characteristics of both inbred (pedigree F = 0.25) and outbred (pedigree F = 0) individuals from two captive populations, one domesticated and one recently wild-derived, raised under standardized conditions. As normal spermatozoa morphology did not differ consistently between inbred and outbred individuals, our study confirms the hypothesis that sperm morphology is not particularly susceptible to inbreeding depression. Inbreeding did, however, lead to significantly lower sperm motility and a substantially higher percentage of abnormal spermatozoa in ejaculate. These results were consistent across both study populations, confirming the generality and reliability of our findings. PMID:26811793

  8. Social experience affects neuronal responses to male calls in adult female zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Menardy, F; Touiki, K; Dutrieux, G; Bozon, B; Vignal, C; Mathevon, N; Del Negro, C

    2012-04-01

    Plasticity studies have consistently shown that behavioural relevance can change the neural representation of sounds in the auditory system, but what occurs in the context of natural acoustic communication where significance could be acquired through social interaction remains to be explored. The zebra finch, a highly social songbird species that forms lifelong pair bonds and uses a vocalization, the distance call, to identify its mate, offers an opportunity to address this issue. Here, we recorded spiking activity in females while presenting distance calls that differed in their degree of familiarity: calls produced by the mate, by a familiar male, or by an unfamiliar male. We focused on the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM), a secondary auditory forebrain region. Both the mate's call and the familiar call evoked responses that differed in magnitude from responses to the unfamiliar call. This distinction between responses was seen both in single unit recordings from anesthetized females and in multiunit recordings from awake freely moving females. In contrast, control females that had not heard them previously displayed responses of similar magnitudes to all three calls. In addition, more cells showed highly selective responses in mated than in control females, suggesting that experience-dependent plasticity in call-evoked responses resulted in enhanced discrimination of auditory stimuli. Our results as a whole demonstrate major changes in the representation of natural vocalizations in the NCM within the context of individual recognition. The functional properties of NCM neurons may thus change continuously to adapt to the social environment. PMID:22512260

  9. Long-term effects of manipulated natal brood size on metabolic rate in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Verhulst, Simon; Holveck, Marie-Jeanne; Riebel, Katharina

    2006-09-22

    Long-term effects of developmental conditions on health, longevity and other fitness components in humans are drawing increasing attention. In evolutionary ecology, such effects are of similar importance because of their role in the trade-off between quantity and quality of offspring. The central role of energy consumption is well documented for some long-term health effects in humans (e.g. obesity), but little is known of the long-term effects of rearing conditions on energy requirements later in life. We manipulated the rearing conditions in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) using brood size manipulation and cross-fostering. It has previously been shown in this species that being reared in a large brood has negative fitness consequences, and that such effects are stronger in daughters than in sons. We show that, independent of mass, standard metabolic rate of 1-year-old birds was higher when they had been reared in a large brood, and this is to our knowledge the first demonstration of such an effect. Furthermore, the brood size effect was stronger in daughters than in sons. This suggests that metabolic efficiency may play a role in mediating the long-term fitness consequences of rearing conditions. PMID:17148435

  10. Long-term effects of manipulated natal brood size on metabolic rate in zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Verhulst, Simon; Holveck, Marie-Jeanne; Riebel, Katharina

    2006-01-01

    Long-term effects of developmental conditions on health, longevity and other fitness components in humans are drawing increasing attention. In evolutionary ecology, such effects are of similar importance because of their role in the trade-off between quantity and quality of offspring. The central role of energy consumption is well documented for some long-term health effects in humans (e.g. obesity), but little is known of the long-term effects of rearing conditions on energy requirements later in life. We manipulated the rearing conditions in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) using brood size manipulation and cross-fostering. It has previously been shown in this species that being reared in a large brood has negative fitness consequences, and that such effects are stronger in daughters than in sons. We show that, independent of mass, standard metabolic rate of 1-year-old birds was higher when they had been reared in a large brood, and this is to our knowledge the first demonstration of such an effect. Furthermore, the brood size effect was stronger in daughters than in sons. This suggests that metabolic efficiency may play a role in mediating the long-term fitness consequences of rearing conditions. PMID:17148435

  11. Behavior-Linked FoxP2 Regulation Enables Zebra Finch Vocal Learning

    PubMed Central

    Heston, Jonathan B.

    2015-01-01

    Mutations in the FOXP2 transcription factor cause an inherited speech and language disorder, but how FoxP2 contributes to learning of these vocal communication signals remains unclear. FoxP2 is enriched in corticostriatal circuits of both human and songbird brains. Experimental knockdown of this enrichment in song control neurons of the zebra finch basal ganglia impairs tutor song imitation, indicating that adequate FoxP2 levels are necessary for normal vocal learning. In unmanipulated birds, vocal practice acutely downregulates FoxP2, leading to increased vocal variability and dynamic regulation of FoxP2 target genes. To determine whether this behavioral regulation is important for song learning, here, we used viral-driven overexpression of FoxP2 to counteract its downregulation. This manipulation disrupted the acute effects of song practice on vocal variability and caused inaccurate song imitation. Together, these findings indicate that dynamic behavior-linked regulation of FoxP2, rather than absolute levels, is critical for vocal learning. PMID:25698728

  12. Carbachol-Induced Reduction in the Activity of Adult Male Zebra Finch RA Projection Neurons

    PubMed Central

    Meng, Wei; Wang, Song-Hua; Li, Dong-Feng

    2016-01-01

    Cholinergic mechanism is involved in motor behavior. In songbirds, the robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA) is a song premotor nucleus in the pallium and receives cholinergic inputs from the basal forebrain. The activity of projection neurons in RA determines song motor behavior. Although many evidences suggest that cholinergic system is implicated in song production, the cholinergic modulation of RA is not clear until now. In the present study, the electrophysiological effects of carbachol, a nonselective cholinergic receptor agonist, were investigated on the RA projection neurons of adult male zebra finches through whole-cell patch-clamp techniques in vitro. Our results show that carbachol produced a significant decrease in the spontaneous and evoked action potential (AP) firing frequency of RA projection neurons, accompanying a hyperpolarization of the membrane potential, an increase in the evoked AP latency, afterhyperpolarization (AHP) peak amplitude, and AHP time to peak, and a decrease in the membrane input resistance, membrane time constant, and membrane capacitance. These results indicate that carbachol reduces the activity of RA projection neurons by hyperpolarizing the resting membrane potential and increasing the AHP and the membrane conductance, suggesting that the cholinergic modulation of RA may play an important role in song production. PMID:26904300

  13. Auditory synapses to song premotor neurons are gated off during vocalization in zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Hamaguchi, Kosuke; Tschida, Katherine A; Yoon, Inho; Donald, Bruce R; Mooney, Richard

    2014-01-01

    Songbirds use auditory feedback to learn and maintain their songs, but how feedback interacts with vocal motor circuitry remains unclear. A potential site for this interaction is the song premotor nucleus HVC, which receives auditory input and contains neurons (HVCX cells) that innervate an anterior forebrain pathway (AFP) important to feedback-dependent vocal plasticity. Although the singing-related output of HVCX cells is unaltered by distorted auditory feedback (DAF), deafening gradually weakens synapses on HVCX cells, raising the possibility that they integrate feedback only at subthreshold levels during singing. Using intracellular recordings in singing zebra finches, we found that DAF failed to perturb singing-related synaptic activity of HVCX cells, although many of these cells responded to auditory stimuli in non-singing states. Moreover, in vivo multiphoton imaging revealed that deafening-induced changes to HVCX synapses require intact AFP output. These findings support a model in which the AFP accesses feedback independent of HVC. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01833.001 PMID:24550254

  14. Late-Postnatal Cannabinoid Exposure Persistently Elevates Dendritic Spine Densities in Area X and HVC Song Regions of Zebra Finch Telencephalon

    PubMed Central

    Gilbert, Marcoita T.; Soderstrom, Ken

    2011-01-01

    Centrally acting cannabinoids are well known for their ability to impair functions associated with both learning and memory but appreciation of the physiological mechanisms underlying these actions, particularly those that persist, remains incomplete. Our earlier studies have shown that song stereotypy is persistently reduced in male zebra finches that have been developmentally exposed to cannabinoids. In the present work, we examined the extent to which changes in neuronal morphology (dendritic spine densities and soma size) within brain regions associated with zebra finch vocal learning are affected by late-postnatal cannabinoid agonist exposure. We found that daily treatment with the cannabinoid agonist WIN55212-2 (WIN, 1 mg/kg IM) is associated with 27 % and 31 % elevations in dendritic spine densities in the song regions Area X and HVC, respectively. We also found an overall increase in cell diameter within HVC. Changes in dendritic spine densities were only produced following developmental exposure; treatments given to adults that had completed vocal learning were not effective. These findings have important implications for understanding how repeated cannabinoid exposure can produce significant, lasting alteration of brain morphology, which may contribute to altered development and behavior. PMID:21737064

  15. Laying-sequence-specific variation in yolk oestrogen levels, and relationship to plasma oestrogen in female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

    PubMed Central

    Williams, Tony D.; Ames, Caroline E.; Kiparissis, Yiannis; Wynne-Edwards, Katherine E.

    2005-01-01

    We investigated the relationship between plasma and yolk oestrogens in laying female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) by manipulating plasma oestradiol (E2) levels, via injection of oestradiol-17β, in a sequence-specific manner to maintain chronically high plasma levels for later-developing eggs (contrasting with the endogenous pattern of decreasing plasma E2 concentrations during laying). We report systematic variation in yolk oestrogen concentrations, in relation to laying sequence, similar to that widely reported for androgenic steroids. In sham-manipulated females, yolk E2 concentrations decreased with laying sequence. However, in E2-treated females plasma E2 levels were higher during the period of rapid yolk development of later-laid eggs, compared with control females. As a consequence, we reversed the laying-sequence-specific pattern of yolk E2: in E2-treated females, yolk E2 concentrations increased with laying-sequence. In general therefore, yolk E2 levels were a direct reflection of plasma E2 levels. However, in control females there was some inter-individual variability in the endogenous pattern of plasma E2 levels through the laying cycle which could generate variation in sequence-specific patterns of yolk hormone levels even if these primarily reflect circulating steroid levels. PMID:15695208

  16. Short-term and long-term effects of vocal distortion on song maintenance in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Hough, Gerald E; Volman, Susan F

    2002-02-01

    Adult zebra finch song is irreversibly altered when birds are deprived of correct feedback by deafening or denervation of the syrinx. To clarify the role of feedback in song maintenance, we developed a reversible technique to distort vocal output without damaging the auditory or vocal systems. We implanted flexible beads adjacent to the syrinx to alter its biomechanics. Immediate song aberrations included low volume, frequency shifts, missing harmonics, and production of click-like syllables. After a few weeks, seven of nine birds stopped producing some syllables. In six of these birds, the gaps left by the silenced syllables gradually shortened, and the lost syllables did not return when beads were removed 16 weeks after treatment began. The nondeleted syllables of all birds regained their preimplant morphology, insofar as could be detected, within 9 d after bead removal. In four other birds, we removed the beads as soon as syllables were deleted, when the silent intervals were still full length. In these birds, all deleted syllables returned within 1 week. Our results indicate that both silenced syllables and syllable morphology can recover as long as the song's temporal structure is maintained, but once altered, changes in the song sequence can be permanent. A hierarchical organization of the song production system has recently been described (Margoliash, 1997). Reversible disruption of song production by our method appears to permanently alter the higher levels of the system that encode song sequence, but not the lower levels that encode individual syllable structure. PMID:11826147

  17. Cyclic AMP phosphodiesterases in the zebra finch: distribution, cloning and characterization of a PDE4B homolog.

    PubMed

    Thompson, B E; Freking, F; Pho, V; Schlinger, B A; Cherry, J A

    2000-11-10

    Songbirds are important animal models for studying neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory. While evidence has emerged that cAMP plays a significant role in invertebrate and mammalian learning, little is known about the role of cAMP pathways in regulating neuronal function in birds. With the goal of identifying important components of this pathway, we report the first cloning of a cAMP-specific, Type IV phosphodiesterase (PDE4) in a non-mammalian vertebrate. A combination of PCR analysis and cDNA library screening was used to show that homologs of the four known mammalian PDE4 genes also exist in zebra finch. A full-length cDNA representing the zebra finch homolog of PDE4B1 was isolated from a telencephalic library. Expression of this cDNA in human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK) cells yielded an enzyme that hydrolyzed cAMP with a low K(m) and was inhibited by micromolar concentrations of rolipram; these properties are typical of all known mammalian PDE4s. In brain, northern blots revealed transcripts of 3.6 and 4.4 kb in adults, but only the 3.6 kb transcript in juveniles, suggesting that PDE4 expression is developmentally regulated. In situ hybridization of tissue sections demonstrated that PDE4 message was distributed widely throughout the adult zebra finch brain, including regions controlling the learning of songs and the acquisition of spatial memories. These data suggest that PDE4 enzymes may influence a variety of brain functions in these birds and play a role in learning. PMID:11072099

  18. Relationship between prolactin, reproductive experience, and parental care in a biparental songbird, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Smiley, Kristina O; Adkins-Regan, Elizabeth

    2016-06-01

    Hormonal systems have long been thought to play an important role in stimulating the onset of parental behavior, a critical component of reproductive success in a variety of taxa. Elevations in the peptide hormone prolactin (PRL) have been repeatedly positively correlated with the onset and maintenance of parental care across vertebrate species. A causal role for PRL in parental care has been established in several mammalian species, but less evidence for a causal role of PRL and parental care exists in birds. The zebra finch, a socially monogamous, biparental songbird, is an exceptionally useful animal model to study parental care and other close social relationships. Both sexes share parental care equally, exhibit the same parental behaviors, and show a marked improvement in breeding success with experience. We hypothesize that PRL is critically involved in the expression of zebra finch parental care and predict that circulating PRL levels will increase with breeding experience. To begin testing this, we measured plasma PRL concentrations in 14 male-female zebra finch pairs (N=28) across two breeding cycles, using a repeated measures design. PRL was measured in the birds' first, reproductively inexperienced, breeding cycle beginning at courtship and extending through chick fledging. PRL was measured again during the birds' second, reproductively experienced, breeding cycle, beginning with egg laying until chick fledging. We found that plasma PRL is significantly elevated from non-breeding concentrations during late incubation and early post-hatch care and that this elevation is greater in the reproductively experienced cycle compared to the inexperienced cycle. Findings of this study will be used to inform hypotheses and predictions for future experimental manipulations of PRL during parental care. PMID:26602378

  19. Mitochondrial uncoupling as a regulator of life-history trajectories in birds: an experimental study in the zebra finch.

    PubMed

    Stier, Antoine; Bize, Pierre; Roussel, Damien; Schull, Quentin; Massemin, Sylvie; Criscuolo, François

    2014-10-01

    Mitochondria have a fundamental role in the transduction of energy from food into ATP. The coupling between food oxidation and ATP production is never perfect, but may nevertheless be of evolutionary significance. The 'uncoupling to survive' hypothesis suggests that 'mild' mitochondrial uncoupling evolved as a protective mechanism against the excessive production of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS). Because resource allocation and ROS production are thought to shape animal life histories, alternative life-history trajectories might be driven by individual variation in the degree of mitochondrial uncoupling. We tested this hypothesis in a small bird species, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), by treating adults with the artificial mitochondrial uncoupler 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) over a 32-month period. In agreement with our expectations, the uncoupling treatment increased metabolic rate. However, we found no evidence that treated birds enjoyed lower oxidative stress levels or greater survival rates, in contrast to previous results in other taxa. In vitro experiments revealed lower sensitivity of ROS production to DNP in mitochondria isolated from skeletal muscles of zebra finch than mouse. In addition, we found significant reductions in the number of eggs laid and in the inflammatory immune response in treated birds. Altogether, our data suggest that the 'uncoupling to survive' hypothesis may not be applicable for zebra finches, presumably because of lower effects of mitochondrial uncoupling on mitochondrial ROS production in birds than in mammals. Nevertheless, mitochondrial uncoupling appeared to be a potential life-history regulator of traits such as fecundity and immunity at adulthood, even with food supplied ad libitum. PMID:25063856

  20. Reduced vocal variability in a zebra finch model of dopamine depletion: implications for Parkinson disease

    PubMed Central

    Miller, Julie E; Hafzalla, George W; Burkett, Zachary D; Fox, Cynthia M; White, Stephanie A

    2015-01-01

    Midbrain dopamine (DA) modulates the activity of basal ganglia circuitry important for motor control in a variety of species. In songbirds, DA underlies motivational behavior including reproductive drive and is implicated as a gatekeeper for neural activity governing vocal variability. In the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata, DA levels increase in Area X, a song-dedicated subregion of the basal ganglia, when a male bird sings his courtship song to a female (female-directed; FD). Levels remain stable when he sings a less stereotyped version that is not directed toward a conspecific (undirected; UD). Here, we used a mild dose of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) to reduce presynaptic DA input to Area X and characterized the effects on FD and UD behaviors. Immunoblots were used to quantify levels of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) as a biomarker for DA afferent loss in vehicle- and 6-OHDA-injected birds. Following 6-OHDA administration, TH signals were lower in Area X but not in an adjacent subregion, ventral striatal-pallidum (VSP). A postsynaptic marker of DA signaling was unchanged in both regions. These observations suggest that effects were specific to presynaptic afferents of vocal basal ganglia. Concurrently, vocal variability was reduced during UD but not FD song. Similar decreases in vocal variability are observed in patients with Parkinson disease (PD), but the link to DA loss is not well-understood. The 6-OHDA songbird model offers a unique opportunity to further examine how DA loss in cortico-basal ganglia pathways affects vocal control. PMID:26564062

  1. Effect of laying sequence on egg mercury in captive zebra finches: an interpretation considering individual variation.

    PubMed

    Ou, Langbo; Varian-Ramos, Claire W; Cristol, Daniel A

    2015-08-01

    Bird eggs are used widely as noninvasive bioindicators for environmental mercury availability. Previous studies, however, have found varying relationships between laying sequence and egg mercury concentrations. Some studies have reported that the mercury concentration was higher in first-laid eggs or declined across the laying sequence, whereas in other studies mercury concentration was not related to egg order. Approximately 300 eggs (61 clutches) were collected from captive zebra finches dosed throughout their reproductive lives with methylmercury (0.3 μg/g, 0.6 μg/g, 1.2 μg/g, or 2.4 μg/g wet wt in diet); the total mercury concentration (mean ± standard deviation [SD] dry wt basis) of their eggs was 7.03 ± 1.38 μg/g, 14.15 ± 2.52 μg/g, 26.85 ± 5.85 μg/g, and 49.76 ± 10.37 μg/g, respectively (equivalent to fresh wt egg mercury concentrations of 1.24 μg/g, 2.50 μg/g, 4.74 μg/g, and 8.79 μg/g). The authors observed a significant decrease in the mercury concentration of successive eggs when compared with the first egg and notable variation between clutches within treatments. The mercury level of individual females within and among treatments did not alter this relationship. Based on the results, sampling of a single egg in each clutch from any position in the laying sequence is sufficient for purposes of population risk assessment, but it is not recommended as a proxy for individual female exposure or as an estimate of average mercury level within the clutch. PMID:25760460

  2. Audience Effect Alters Male Mating Preferences in Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

    PubMed Central

    Dubois, Frédérique; Belzile, Alexandra

    2012-01-01

    The social environment of animals strongly influences the mating preferences of both the choosing and the observing individuals. Notably, there is recent evidence that polygamous males decrease their selectivity when being observed by competitors in order to direct their rivals’ attention away from their true interest and, consequently, reduce sperm competition risk. Yet, other mechanisms, whose importance remains unexplored, could induce similar effects. In monogamous species with mutual choice, particularly, if males adjust their selectivity according to the risk of being rejected by their preferred mate, they should as well become less selective when potential rivals are present. Here, we investigated whether the presence of bystanders modifies male mating preferences when the risk of sperm competition is low, by carrying out mate-choice experiments with male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) whose preferences for two females were measured twice: with and without an audience. We found that the presence of potential rivals had no effect on the males’ choosiness. However, with an audience, they spent more time with the female that was considered as the less attractive one in the control condition. These findings support the hypothesis that monogamous males alter their mate choice decisions in the presence of a male audience to reduce the risk of remaining unpaired. Thus, our results indicate that several explanations can account for the changes in male preferences due to the presence of competitors and highlight the importance of assessing the relative role of each mechanism potentially involved, to be able to make conclusions about the effect of an audience on signal evolution. PMID:22916298

  3. BRAIN EXPRESSION AND SONG REGULATION OF THE CHOLECYSTOKININ GENE IN THE ZEBRA FINCH (TAENIOPYGIA GUTTATA)

    PubMed Central

    Lovell, Peter V.; Mello, Claudio V.

    2010-01-01

    The gene encoding cholecystokinin (Cck) is abundantly expressed in the mammalian brain and has been associated with such functions as feeding termination and satiety, locomotion and self-stimulation, the modulation of anxiety-like behaviors, and learning and memory. Here we describe the brain expression and song regulation of Cck in the brain of the adult male zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), a songbird species. Using in situ hybridization, we demonstrate that Cck is highly expressed in several discrete brain regions, most prominently the caudal-most portion of the hippocampal formation, the caudodorsal nidopallial shelf and the caudomedial nidopallium (NCM), the core or shell regions of dorsal thalamic nuclei, dopaminergic cell groups in the mesencephalon and pons, the principal nucleus of the trigeminal nerve, and the dorsal raphe. Cck was largely absent in song control system, a group of nuclei required for vocal learning and song production in songbirds, though sparse labeling was detected throughout the striatum, including song nucleus area X. We also show that levels of Cck mRNA and the number of labeled cells increase in the NCM of males and females following auditory stimulation with conspecific song. Double labeling further reveals that the majority of Cck cells, excluding those in the reticular nucleus of the thalamus, are non-GABAergic. Together, these data provide the first comprehensive characterization of Cck expression in a songbird, and suggest a possible involvement of Cck regulation in important aspects of birdsong biology, such as perceptual processing, auditory memorization and/or vocal-motor control of song production. PMID:21165972

  4. Pauses enhance chunk recognition in song element strings by zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Spierings, Michelle; de Weger, Anouk; Ten Cate, Carel

    2015-07-01

    When learning a language, it is crucial to know which syllables of a continuous sound string belong together as words. Human infants achieve this by attending to pauses between words or to the co-occurrence of syllables. It is not only humans that can segment a continuous string. Songbirds learning their song tend to copy 'chunks' from one or more tutors' songs and combine these into their own song. In the tutor songs, these chunks are often separated by pauses and a high co-occurrence of elements, suggesting that these features affect chunking and song learning. We examined experimentally whether the presence of pauses and element co-occurrence affect the ability of adult zebra finches to discriminate strings of song elements. Using a go/no-go design, two groups of birds were trained to discriminate between two strings. In one group (Pause-group), pauses were inserted between co-occurring element triplets in the strings, and in the other group (No-pause group), both strings were continuous. After making a correct discrimination, an individual proceeded to a reversal training using string segments. Segments were element triplets consistent in co-occurrence, triplets that were partly consistent in composition and triplets consisting of elements that did not co-occur in the strings. The Pause-group was faster in discriminating between the two strings. This group also responded differently to consistent triplets in the reversal training, compared to inconsistent triplets. The No-pause group did not differentiate among the triplet types. These results indicate that pauses in strings of song elements aid song discrimination and memorization of co-occurring element groups. PMID:25771964

  5. Centrally Synthesized Estradiol Is a Potent Anti-Inflammatory in the Injured Zebra Finch Brain.

    PubMed

    Pedersen, Alyssa L; Nelson, Lars H; Saldanha, Colin J

    2016-05-01

    In homeotherms, injury to the brain, such as a penetrating wound, increases microglial cytokine expression and astroglial aromatase (estrogen synthase). In songbirds, injury-induced synthesis of estrogens is neuroprotective as aromatase inhibition and replacement with estradiol (E2) exacerbates and mitigates the extent of damage, respectively. The influence of induced aromatization on inflammation, however, remains unstudied. We hypothesized that injury-induced aromatization, via E2 synthesis, may affect neuroinflammation after a penetrating brain injury. Using adult zebra finches, we first documented an increase in the transcription of cytokines but not aromatase, 2 hours after the injury. Twenty-four hours after the injury, however, aromatase was dramatically elevated and cytokine expression had returned to baseline, suggesting that aromatization may be involved in the decrease of cytokines and neuroinflammation. In two subsequent experiments, we tested the influence of the inhibition of induced aromatization and aromatase inhibition with concomitant central E2 replacement on the transcription of the cytokines TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6, the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (cox-2), and its product prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Administration of fadrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, caused a sustained elevation of IL-1β in females and TNF-α, cox-2, and PGE2 in both sexes. This prolonged neuroinflammation appears to be due to a failure to synthesize E2 locally because intracranial E2 replacement lowered IL-1β in females, TNF-α in males, and cox-2 and PGE2 in both sexes. IL-6 was not affected by injury, aromatase inhibition, or E2 replacement in either sex. These data suggest that E2 synthesis after a penetrating brain injury is a potent and inducible anti-inflammatory signal, with specific modulation of discrete cytokine signaling. PMID:26963472

  6. A prezygotic transmission distorter acting equally in female and male zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata.

    PubMed

    Knief, Ulrich; Schielzeth, Holger; Ellegren, Hans; Kempenaers, Bart; Forstmeier, Wolfgang

    2015-08-01

    The two parental alleles at a specific locus are usually inherited with equal probability to the offspring. However, at least three processes can lead to an apparent departure from fair segregation: early viability selection, biased gene conversion and various kinds of segregation distortion. Here, we conduct a genome-wide scan for transmission distortion in a captive population of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) using 1302 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) followed by confirmatory analyses on independent samples from the same population. In the initial genome-wide scan, we found significant distortion at three linked loci on chromosome Tgu2 and we were able to replicate this finding in each of two follow-up data sets [overall transmission ratio = 0.567 (95% CI = 0.536-0.600), based on 1101 informative meioses]. Although the driving allele was preferentially transmitted by both heterozygous females [ratio = 0.560 (95% CI = 0.519-0.603)] and heterozygous males [ratio = 0.575 (95% CI = 0.531-0.623)], we could rule out postzygotic viability selection and biased gene conversion as possible mechanisms. Early postzygotic viability selection is unlikely, because it would result in eggs with no visible embryo and hence no opportunity for genotyping, and we confirmed that both females and males heterozygous for the driving allele did not produce a larger proportion of such eggs than homozygous birds. Biased gene conversion is expected to be rather localized, while we could trace transmission distortion in haplotypes of several megabases in a recombination desert. Thus, we here report the rare case of a prezygotically active transmission distorter operating equally effectively in female and male meioses. PMID:26087713

  7. Reduced vocal variability in a zebra finch model of dopamine depletion: implications for Parkinson disease.

    PubMed

    Miller, Julie E; Hafzalla, George W; Burkett, Zachary D; Fox, Cynthia M; White, Stephanie A

    2015-11-01

    Midbrain dopamine (DA) modulates the activity of basal ganglia circuitry important for motor control in a variety of species. In songbirds, DA underlies motivational behavior including reproductive drive and is implicated as a gatekeeper for neural activity governing vocal variability. In the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata, DA levels increase in Area X, a song-dedicated subregion of the basal ganglia, when a male bird sings his courtship song to a female (female-directed; FD). Levels remain stable when he sings a less stereotyped version that is not directed toward a conspecific (undirected; UD). Here, we used a mild dose of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) to reduce presynaptic DA input to Area X and characterized the effects on FD and UD behaviors. Immunoblots were used to quantify levels of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) as a biomarker for DA afferent loss in vehicle- and 6-OHDA-injected birds. Following 6-OHDA administration, TH signals were lower in Area X but not in an adjacent subregion, ventral striatal-pallidum (VSP). A postsynaptic marker of DA signaling was unchanged in both regions. These observations suggest that effects were specific to presynaptic afferents of vocal basal ganglia. Concurrently, vocal variability was reduced during UD but not FD song. Similar decreases in vocal variability are observed in patients with Parkinson disease (PD), but the link to DA loss is not well-understood. The 6-OHDA songbird model offers a unique opportunity to further examine how DA loss in cortico-basal ganglia pathways affects vocal control. PMID:26564062

  8. Molt-breeding overlap alters molt dynamics and behavior in zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata castanotis.

    PubMed

    Echeverry-Galvis, Maria A; Hau, Michaela

    2012-06-01

    Costly events in the life history cycle of organisms such as reproduction, migration and pelage/plumage replacement are typically separated in time to maximize their outcome. Such temporal separation is thought to be necessitated by energetical trade-offs, and mediated through physiological processes. However, certain species, such as tropical birds, are able to overlap two costly life history stages: reproduction and feather replacement. It has remained unclear how both events progress when they co-occur over extended periods of time. Here we determined the consequences and potential costs of such overlap by comparing molt and behavioral patterns in both sexes of captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis) that were solely molting or were overlapping breeding and molt. Individuals overlapping the early stages of breeding with molt showed a roughly 40% decrease in the growth rate of individual feathers compared with birds that were molting but not breeding. Further, individuals that overlapped breeding and molt tended to molt fewer feathers simultaneously and exhibited longer intervals between shedding consecutive feathers on the tail or the same wing as well as delays in shedding corresponding flight feathers on opposite sides. Overlapping individuals also altered their time budgets: they devoted more than twice the time to feeding while halving the time spent for feather care in comparison to molt-only individuals. These data provide experimental support for the previously untested hypothesis that when molt and reproduction overlap in time, feather replacement will occur at a slower and less intense rate. There were no sex differences in any of the variables assessed, except for a tendency in females to decline body condition more strongly over time during the overlap than males. Our data indicate the existence of major consequences of overlapping breeding and molt, manifested in changes in both molt dynamics and time budgets of both sexes. It is

  9. The interplay of within-species perceptual predispositions and experience during song ontogeny in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

    PubMed Central

    ter Haar, Sita M.; Kaemper, Wiebke; Stam, Koen; Levelt, Clara C.; ten Cate, Carel

    2014-01-01

    Vocal acquisition in songbirds and humans shows many similarities, one of which is that both involve a combination of experience and perceptual predispositions. Among languages some speech sounds are shared, while others are not. This could reflect a predisposition in young infants for learning some speech sounds over others, which combines with exposure-based learning. Similarly, in songbirds, some sounds are common across populations, while others are more specific to populations or individuals. We examine whether this is also due to perceptual preferences for certain within-species element types in naive juvenile male birds, and how such preferences interact with exposure to guide subsequent song learning. We show that young zebra finches lacking previous song exposure perceptually prefer songs with more common zebra finch song element types over songs with less common elements. Next, we demonstrate that after subsequent tutoring, birds prefer tutor songs regardless of whether these contain more common or less common elements. In adulthood, birds tutored with more common elements showed a higher song similarity to their tutor song, indicating that the early bias influenced song learning. Our findings help to understand the maintenance of similarities and the presence of differences among birds' songs, their dialects and human languages. PMID:25320162

  10. Acoustic Communication and Sound Degradation: How Do the Individual Signatures of Male and Female Zebra Finch Calls Transmit over Distance?

    PubMed Central

    Mouterde, Solveig C.; Theunissen, Frédéric E.; Elie, Julie E.; Vignal, Clémentine; Mathevon, Nicolas

    2014-01-01

    Background Assessing the active space of the various types of information encoded by songbirds' vocalizations is important to address questions related to species ecology (e.g. spacing of individuals), as well as social behavior (e.g. territorial and/or mating strategies). Up to now, most of the previous studies have investigated the degradation of species-specific related information (species identity), and there is a gap of knowledge of how finer-grained information (e.g. individual identity) can transmit through the environment. Here we studied how the individual signature coded in the zebra finch long distance contact call degrades with propagation. Methodology We performed sound transmission experiments of zebra finches' distance calls at various propagation distances. The propagated calls were analyzed using discriminant function analyses on a set of analytical parameters describing separately the spectral and temporal envelopes, as well as on a complete spectrographic representation of the signals. Results/Conclusion We found that individual signature is remarkably resistant to propagation as caller identity can be recovered even at distances greater than a hundred meters. Male calls show stronger discriminability at long distances than female calls, and this difference can be explained by the more pronounced frequency modulation found in their calls. In both sexes, individual information is carried redundantly using multiple acoustical features. Interestingly, features providing the highest discrimination at short distances are not the same ones that provide the highest discrimination at long distances. PMID:25061795

  11. Sex-biased investment in yolk androgens depends on female quality and laying order in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gilbert, Lucy; Rutstein, Alison N.; Hazon, Neil; Graves, Jefferson A.

    2005-04-01

    The Trivers-Willard hypothesis predicts sex biases in parental investment according to parental condition. In addition, parents may need to sex bias their investment if there is an asymmetry between the sexes in offspring fitness under different conditions. For studying maternal differential investment, egg resources are ideal subjects because they are self contained and allocated unequivocally by the female. Recent studies show that yolk androgens can be beneficial to offspring, so here we test for sex-biased investment with maternal investment of yolk testosterone (T) in zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) eggs. From the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, we predicted females to invest more in male eggs in optimum circumstances (e.g. good-condition mother, early-laid egg), and more in female eggs under suboptimal conditions (e.g. poor-condition mother, late-laid egg). This latter prediction is also because in this species there is a female nestling disadvantage in poor conditions and we expected mothers to help compensate for this in female eggs. Indeed, we found more yolk T in female than male eggs. Moreover, in accordance with our predictions, yolk T in male eggs increased with maternal quality relative to female eggs, and decreased with laying order relative to female eggs. This supports our predictions for the different needs and value of male and female offspring in zebra finches. Our results support the idea that females may use yolk androgens as a tool to adaptively manipulate the inequalities between different nestlings.

  12. Effects of lethal and sublethal concentrations of the herbicide, triclopyr butoxyethyl ester, in the diet of zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Holmes, S B; Thompson, D G; Wainio-Keizer, K L; Capell, S S; Staznik, B

    1994-07-01

    Lethal and sublethal effects of dietary triclopyr butoxyethyl ester (TBEE) on zebra finches (Poephila guttata Gould) were determined in laboratory experiments conducted between 8 January and 1 May 1991. The 8-day median lethal dietary concentration, LC50 (95% confidence interval), of TBEE to zebra finches was 1,923 (1,627 to 2,277) mg/kg. In the sublethal effects experiment, when birds were exposed to 500 mg/kg TBEE in the diet for 29 days, food consumption and body weight were significantly depressed (P < 0.05). Similar prolonged exposures to 50 and 150 mg/kg TBEE in the diet had no significant effect on food consumption or body weight (P > 0.05). Perch-hopping activity was depressed relative to controls in the 500 mg/kg group, and elevated in the 150 mg/kg group, but neither of these differences was significantly (P > 0.05). Disappearance of TBEE residues from treated seeds over the 29 day experimental period followed an exponential decay model, with half-lives in the order of 15 to 18 days. On the basis of our observation that TBEE had no significant adverse effects at a concentration greater than the maximum expected environmental concentration, we propose that forestry applications of triclopyr at registered dosage rates pose little risk to wild songbirds. PMID:7933272

  13. Short-term exposure to testosterone propionate leads to rapid bill color and dominance changes in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Ardia, Daniel R; Broughton, Deanna R; Gleicher, Michael J

    2010-08-01

    Testosterone (T) can influence both male-male competition and mate choice displays. In zebra finches, female mate choice is based in part on bill color, and bill color has been shown to be enhanced by long-term testosterone supplementation. However, it is not clear whether bill color plays a role in male-male interactions and how bill color responds to shorter-term changes in T. We tested whether a single injection of testosterone propionate (TP) would influence male-male dominance interactions and lead to rapid (over a three-day period) changes in bill color. In addition, we tested whether bill color predicted aggression and dominance. We allowed birds in triads to establish hierarchies and then injected either dominant or subordinate individuals with TP, in addition to establishing sham control triads. We found that red chroma, but not hue, predicted aggressiveness of males. Exposure to TP led both dominant and subordinate birds to increase dominance scores over three days, longer than the <24h period in which injected TP stays active. In addition, exposure to TP increased red chroma and hue in three days showing the dynamic nature of allocation of pigments to the bill. Our results suggest that zebra finches can modulate T and bill color levels over short time periods and these changes may occur through positive feedback between T-levels and dominance. PMID:20406643

  14. The interplay of within-species perceptual predispositions and experience during song ontogeny in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    ter Haar, Sita M; Kaemper, Wiebke; Stam, Koen; Levelt, Clara C; ten Cate, Carel

    2014-12-01

    Vocal acquisition in songbirds and humans shows many similarities, one of which is that both involve a combination of experience and perceptual predispositions. Among languages some speech sounds are shared, while others are not. This could reflect a predisposition in young infants for learning some speech sounds over others, which combines with exposure-based learning. Similarly, in songbirds, some sounds are common across populations, while others are more specific to populations or individuals. We examine whether this is also due to perceptual preferences for certain within-species element types in naive juvenile male birds, and how such preferences interact with exposure to guide subsequent song learning. We show that young zebra finches lacking previous song exposure perceptually prefer songs with more common zebra finch song element types over songs with less common elements. Next, we demonstrate that after subsequent tutoring, birds prefer tutor songs regardless of whether these contain more common or less common elements. In adulthood, birds tutored with more common elements showed a higher song similarity to their tutor song, indicating that the early bias influenced song learning. Our findings help to understand the maintenance of similarities and the presence of differences among birds' songs, their dialects and human languages. PMID:25320162

  15. HTR2 Receptors in a Songbird Premotor Cortical-Like Area Modulate Spectral Characteristics of Zebra Finch Song

    PubMed Central

    Wood, William E.; Roseberry, Thomas K.; Perkel, David J.

    2013-01-01

    Serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)] is involved in modulating an array of complex behaviors including learning, depression, and circadian rhythms. Additionally, HTR2 receptors on layer V pyramidal neurons are thought to mediate the actions of psychedelic drugs; the native function of these receptors at this site, however, remains unknown. Previously, we found that activation of HTR2 receptors in the zebra finch forebrain song premotor structure the robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA) led to increased excitation, and that endogenous 5-HT could roughly double spontaneous firing rate. Here, using in vivo single-unit recordings, we found that direct application of 5-HT to these same RA projection neurons, which are analogous to layer V cortical pyramidal neurons, caused a significant increase in the number of action potentials per song-related burst, and a dramatic decrease in signal-to-noise ratio. Injection of the serotonergic neurotoxin 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine into the third ventricle greatly reduced telencephalic 5-HT and resulted in decreased fundamental frequency of harmonic syllables as well as increased goodness of pitch. Both of these results can be explained by the observed actions of 5-HT on RA projection neurons, and both effects recovered to baseline within 2 weeks following the toxin injection. These results show that 5-HT is involved in modulating spectral properties of song, likely via effects on RA projection neurons, but that adult zebra finches can partially compensate for this deficit within 7 d. PMID:23407949

  16. Subdivisions of the Auditory Midbrain (N. Mesencephalicus Lateralis, pars dorsalis) in Zebra Finches Using Calcium-Binding Protein Immunocytochemistry

    PubMed Central

    Logerot, Priscilla; Krützfeldt, Nils O. E.; Wild, J. Martin; Kubke, M. Fabiana

    2011-01-01

    The midbrain nucleus mesencephalicus lateralis pars dorsalis (MLd) is thought to be the avian homologue of the central nucleus of the mammalian inferior colliculus. As such, it is a major relay in the ascending auditory pathway of all birds and in songbirds mediates the auditory feedback necessary for the learning and maintenance of song. To clarify the organization of MLd, we applied three calcium binding protein antibodies to tissue sections from the brains of adult male and female zebra finches. The staining patterns resulting from the application of parvalbumin, calbindin and calretinin antibodies differed from each other and in different parts of the nucleus. Parvalbumin-like immunoreactivity was distributed throughout the whole nucleus, as defined by the totality of the terminations of brainstem auditory afferents; in other words parvalbumin-like immunoreactivity defines the boundaries of MLd. Staining patterns of parvalbumin, calbindin and calretinin defined two regions of MLd: inner (MLd.I) and outer (MLd.O). MLd.O largely surrounds MLd.I and is distinct from the surrounding intercollicular nucleus. Unlike the case in some non-songbirds, however, the two MLd regions do not correspond to the terminal zones of the projections of the brainstem auditory nuclei angularis and laminaris, which have been found to overlap substantially throughout the nucleus in zebra finches. PMID:21701681

  17. A genome-wide search for eigenetically regulated genes in zebra finch using MethylCap-seq and RNA-seq

    PubMed Central

    Steyaert, Sandra; Diddens, Jolien; Galle, Jeroen; De Meester, Ellen; De Keulenaer, Sarah; Bakker, Antje; Sohnius-Wilhelmi, Nina; Frankl-Vilches, Carolina; Van der Linden, Annemie; Van Criekinge, Wim; Vanden Berghe, Wim; De Meyer, Tim

    2016-01-01

    Learning and memory formation are known to require dynamic CpG (de)methylation and gene expression changes. Here, we aimed at establishing a genome-wide DNA methylation map of the zebra finch genome, a model organism in neuroscience, as well as identifying putatively epigenetically regulated genes. RNA- and MethylCap-seq experiments were performed on two zebra finch cell lines in presence or absence of 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine induced demethylation. First, the MethylCap-seq methodology was validated in zebra finch by comparison with RRBS-generated data. To assess the influence of (variable) methylation on gene expression, RNA-seq experiments were performed as well. Comparison of RNA-seq and MethylCap-seq results showed that at least 357 of the 3,457 AZA-upregulated genes are putatively regulated by methylation in the promoter region, for which a pathway analysis showed remarkable enrichment for neurological networks. A subset of genes was validated using Exon Arrays, quantitative RT-PCR and CpG pyrosequencing on bisulfite-treated samples. To our knowledge, this study provides the first genome-wide DNA methylation map of the zebra finch genome as well as a comprehensive set of genes of which transcription is under putative methylation control. PMID:26864856

  18. Early Fasting Is Long Lasting: Differences in Early Nutritional Conditions Reappear under Stressful Conditions in Adult Female Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Krause, E. Tobias; Honarmand, Mariam; Wetzel, Jennifer; Naguib, Marc

    2009-01-01

    Conditions experienced during early life can have profound effects on individual development and condition in adulthood. Differences in nutritional provisioning in birds during the first month of life can lead to differences in growth, reproductive success and survival. Yet, under natural conditions shorter periods of nutritional stress will be more prevalent. Individuals may respond differently, depending on the period of development during which nutritional stress was experienced. Such differences may surface specifically when poor environmental conditions challenge individuals again as adults. Here, we investigated long term consequences of differences in nutritional conditions experienced during different periods of early development by female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) on measures of management and acquisition of body reserves. As nestlings or fledglings, subjects were raised under different nutritional conditions, a low or high quality diet. After subjects reached sexual maturity, we measured their sensitivity to periods of food restriction, their exploration and foraging behaviour as well as adult resting metabolic rate (RMR). During a short period of food restriction, subjects from the poor nutritional conditions had a higher body mass loss than those raised under qualitatively superior nutritional conditions. Moreover, subjects that were raised under poor nutritional conditions were faster to engage in exploratory and foraging behaviour. But RMR did not differ among treatments. These results reveal that early nutritional conditions affect adult exploratory behaviour, a representative personality trait, foraging and adult's physiological condition. As early nutritional conditions are reflected in adult phenotypic plasticity specifically when stressful situations reappear, the results suggest that costs for poor developmental conditions are paid when environmental conditions deteriorate. PMID:19325706

  19. Interactive effects of early and later nutritional conditions on the adult antioxidant defence system in zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Noguera, José C; Monaghan, Pat; Metcalfe, Neil B

    2015-07-01

    In vertebrates, antioxidant defences comprise a mixture of endogenously produced components and exogenously obtained antioxidants that are derived mostly from the diet. It has been suggested that early-life micronutritional conditions might influence the way in which the antioxidant defence system operates, which could enable individuals to adjust the activity of the endogenous and exogenous components in line with their expected intake of dietary antioxidants if the future environment resembles the past. We investigated this possibility by experimentally manipulating the micronutrient content of the diet during different periods of postnatal development in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Birds that had a low micronutrient diet during the growth phase initially had a lower total antioxidant capacity (TAC) than those reared under a high micronutrient diet, but then showed a compensatory response, so that by the end of the growth phase, the TAC of the two groups was the same. Interestingly, we found an interactive effect of micronutrient intake early and late in development: only those birds that continued with the same dietary treatment (low or high) throughout development showed a significant increase in their TAC during the period of sexual maturation. A similar effect was also found in the level of enzymatic antioxidant defences (glutathione peroxidase; GPx). No significant effects were found in the level of oxidative damage in lipids [malondialdehyde (MDA) levels]. These findings demonstrate the importance of early and late developmental conditions in shaping multiple aspects of the antioxidant system. Furthermore, they suggest that young birds may adjust their antioxidant defences to enable them to 'thrive' on diets rich or poor in micronutrients later in life. PMID:25987737

  20. Nest of Origin Predicts Adult Neuron Addition Rates in the Vocal Control System of the Zebra Finch

    PubMed Central

    Hurley, Patrick; Pytte, Carolyn; Kirn, John R.

    2008-01-01

    Neurogenesis and neuronal replacement in adulthood represent dramatic forms of plasticity that might serve as a substrate for behavioral flexibility. In songbirds, neurons are continually replaced in HVC (used as a proper name), a pre-motor region necessary for the production of learned vocalizations. There are large individual differences in HVC neuron addition. Some of this variation is probably due to individual differences in adult experience; however, it is also possible that heritability or experience early in development constrains the levels of adult neuron addition. As a step toward addressing the latter two possibilities, we explored the extent to which nest of origin predicts rates of HVC neuron addition in adult male zebra finches. One month after injections of [3H]-thymidine to mark dividing cells, neuron addition in HVC was found to co-vary among birds that had been nest mates, even when they were housed in different cages as adults. We also tested whether nest mate co-variation might be due to shared adult auditory experience by measuring neuron addition in nest mate pairs after one member was deafened. There were significant differences in neuron addition between hearing and deaf birds but nest mate relationships persisted. These results suggest that variation in genotype and/or early pre- or postnatal experience can account for a large fraction of adult variation in rates of neuron addition. These results also suggest that a major constraint on neurogenesis and the capacity to adjust rates of neuron addition in response to adult auditory experience is established early in development. PMID:18431053

  1. Mercury Reduces Avian Reproductive Success and Imposes Selection: An Experimental Study with Adult- or Lifetime-Exposure in Zebra Finch

    PubMed Central

    Varian-Ramos, Claire W.; Swaddle, John P.; Cristol, Daniel A.

    2014-01-01

    Mercury is a global pollutant that biomagnifies in food webs, placing wildlife at risk of reduced reproductive fitness and survival. Songbirds are the most diverse branch of the avian evolutionary tree; many are suffering persistent and serious population declines and we know that songbirds are frequently exposed to mercury pollution. Our objective was to determine the effects of environmentally relevant doses of mercury on reproductive success of songbirds exposed throughout their lives or only as adults. The two modes of exposure simulated philopatric species versus dispersive species, and are particularly relevant because of the heightened mercury-sensitivity of developing nervous systems. We performed a dosing study with dietary methylmercury in a model songbird species, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), at doses from 0.3 – 2.4 parts per million. Birds were exposed to mercury either as adults only or throughout their lives. All doses of mercury reduced reproductive success, with the lowest dose reducing the number of independent offspring produced in one year by 16% and the highest dose, representing approximately half the lethal dose for this species, causing a 50% reduction. While mercury did not affect clutch size or survivorship, it had the most consistent effect on the proportion of chicks that fledged from the nest, regardless of mode of exposure. Among birds exposed as adults, mercury caused a steep increase in the latency to re-nest after loss of a clutch. Birds exposed for their entire lifetimes, which were necessarily the offspring of dosed parents, had up to 50% lower reproductive success than adult-exposed birds at low doses of methylmercury, but increased reproductive success at high doses, suggesting selection for mercury tolerance at the highest level of exposure. Our results indicate that mercury levels in prey items at contaminated sites pose a significant threat to populations of songbirds through reduced reproductive success. PMID

  2. Pre and post-natal antigen exposure can program the stress axis of adult zebra finches: evidence for environment matching.

    PubMed

    Merrill, Loren; Grindstaff, Jennifer L

    2015-03-01

    Both maternal exposure to stressors and exposure of offspring to stressors during early life can have lifelong effects on the physiology and behavior of offspring. Stress exposure can permanently shape an individual's phenotype by influencing the development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is responsible for the production and regulation of glucocorticoids such as corticosterone (CORT). In this study we used captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to examine the effects of matching and mismatching maternal and early post-natal exposure to one of two types of antigens or a control on HPA axis reactivity in adult offspring. Prior to breeding, adult females were injected with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) or a control. Offspring of females in each of the three treatments were themselves exposed to LPS, KLH or a control injection at 5 and 28days post-hatch. When offspring were at least 18months of age, standardized capture and restraint stress tests were conducted to determine the impact of the treatments on adult stress responsiveness. We found significant interaction effects between maternal and offspring treatments on stress-induced CORT levels, and evidence in support of the environment matching hypothesis for KLH-treated birds, not LPS-treated birds. KLH-treated offspring of KLH-treated mothers exhibited reduced stress-induced CORT levels, whereas LPS-treated or control offspring of KLH-treated mothers exhibited elevated stress-induced CORT levels. Although the treatment effects on baseline CORT were non-significant, the overall pattern was similar to the effects observed on stress-induced CORT levels. Our results highlight the complex nature of HPA axis programming, and to our knowledge, provide the first evidence that a match or mismatch between pre and post-natal antigen exposure can have life-long consequences for HPA axis function. PMID:25535860

  3. Pre and post-natal antigen exposure can program the stress axis of adult zebra finches: evidence for environment matching

    PubMed Central

    Merrill, Loren; Grindstaff, Jennifer L.

    2014-01-01

    Both maternal exposure to stressors and exposure of offspring to stressors during early life can have lifelong effects on the physiology and behavior of offspring. Stress exposure can permanently shape an individual’s phenotype by influencing the development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is responsible for the production and regulation of glucocorticoids such as corticosterone (CORT). In this study we used captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to examine the effects of matching and mismatching maternal and early post-natal exposure to one of two types of antigens or a control on HPA axis reactivity in adult offspring. Prior to breeding, adult females were injected with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) or a control. Offspring of females in each of the three treatments were themselves exposed to LPS, KLH or a control injection at 5 and 28 days post-hatch. When offspring were at least 18 months of age, standardized capture and restraint stress tests were conducted to determine the impact of the treatments on adult stress responsiveness. We found significant interaction effects between maternal and offspring treatments on stress-induced CORT levels, and evidence in support of the environment matching hypothesis for KLH-treated birds not LPS-treated birds. KLH-treated offspring of KLH-treated mothers exhibited reduced stress-induced CORT levels, whereas LPS-treated or control offspring of KLH-treated mothers exhibited elevated stress-induced CORT levels. Although the treatment effects on baseline CORT were non-significant, the overall pattern was similar to the effects observed on stress-induced CORT levels. Our results highlight the complex nature of HPA axis programming, and to our knowledge, provide the first evidence that a match or mismatch between pre and post-natal antigen exposure can have life-long consequences for HPA axis function. PMID:25535860

  4. Novel Song-Stimulated Dendritic Spine Formation and Arc/Arg 3.1 Expression in Zebra Finch Auditory Telencephalon are Disrupted by Cannabinoid Agonism

    PubMed Central

    Gilbert, Marcoita T; Soderstrom, Ken

    2013-01-01

    Cannabinoids are well-established to alter processes of sensory perception; however neurophysiological mechanisms responsible remain unclear. Arc, an immediate-early gene (IEG) product involved in dendritic spine dynamics and necessary for plasticity changes such as long-term potentiation, is rapidly induced within zebra finch caudal medial nidopallium (NCM) following novel song exposure, a response that habituates after repeated stimuli. Arc appears unique in its rapid postsynaptic dendritic expression following excitatory input. Previously, we found that vocal development-altering cannabinoid treatments are associated with elevated dendritic spine densities in motor- (HVC) and learning-related (Area X) song regions of zebra finch telencephalon. Given Arc’s dendritic morphological role, we hypothesized that cannabinoid-altered spine densities may involve Arc-related signaling. To test this, we examined the ability of the cannabinoid agonist WIN55212-2 (WIN) to: (1) acutely disrupt song-induced Arc expression; (2) interfere with habituation to auditory stimuli and; (3) alter dendritic spine densities in auditory regions. We found that WIN (3 mg/kg) acutely reduced Arc expression within both NCM and Field L2 in an antagonist-reversible manner. WIN did not alter Arc expression in thalamic auditory relay Nucleus Ovoidalis (Ov), suggesting cannabinoid signaling selectively alters responses to auditory stimulation. Novel song stimulation rapidly increased dendritic spine densities within auditory telencephalon, an effect blocked by WIN pretreatments. Taken together, cannabinoid inhibition of both Arc induction and its habituation to repeated stimuli, combined with prevention of rapid increases in dendritic spine densities, implicates cannabinoid signaling in modulation of physiological processes important to auditory responsiveness and memory. PMID:24134952

  5. Early Life Manipulations of the Nonapeptide System Alter Pair Maintenance Behaviors and Neural Activity in Adult Male Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Baran, Nicole M.; Tomaszycki, Michelle L.; Adkins-Regan, Elizabeth

    2016-01-01

    Adult zebra finches (T. guttata) form socially monogamous pair bonds characterized by proximity, vocal communication, and contact behaviors. In this experiment, we tested whether manipulations of the nonapeptide hormone arginine vasotocin (AVT, avian homolog of vasopressin) and the V1a receptor (V1aR) early in life altered species-typical pairing behavior in adult zebra finches of both sexes. Although there was no effect of treatment on the tendency to pair in either sex, males in different treatments exhibited profoundly different profiles of pair maintenance behavior. Following a brief separation, AVT-treated males were highly affiliative with their female partner but sang very little compared to Controls. In contrast, males treated with a V1aR antagonist sang significantly less than Controls, but did not differ in affiliation. These effects on behavior in males were also reflected in changes in the expression of V1aR and immediate early gene activity in three brain regions known to be involved in pairing behavior in birds: the medial amygdala, medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, and the lateral septum. AVT males had higher V1aR expression in the medial amygdala than both Control and antagonist-treated males and immediate early gene activity of V1aR neurons in the medial amygdala was positively correlated with affiliation. Antagonist treated males showed decreased activity in the medial amygdala. In addition, there was a negative correlation between the activity of V1aR cells in the medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and singing. Treatment also affected the expression of V1aR and activity in the lateral septum, but this was not correlated with any behaviors measured. These results provide evidence that AVT and V1aR play developmental roles in specific pair maintenance behaviors and the neural substrate underlying these behaviors in a bird. PMID:27065824

  6. Early Life Manipulations of the Nonapeptide System Alter Pair Maintenance Behaviors and Neural Activity in Adult Male Zebra Finches.

    PubMed

    Baran, Nicole M; Tomaszycki, Michelle L; Adkins-Regan, Elizabeth

    2016-01-01

    Adult zebra finches (T. guttata) form socially monogamous pair bonds characterized by proximity, vocal communication, and contact behaviors. In this experiment, we tested whether manipulations of the nonapeptide hormone arginine vasotocin (AVT, avian homolog of vasopressin) and the V1a receptor (V1aR) early in life altered species-typical pairing behavior in adult zebra finches of both sexes. Although there was no effect of treatment on the tendency to pair in either sex, males in different treatments exhibited profoundly different profiles of pair maintenance behavior. Following a brief separation, AVT-treated males were highly affiliative with their female partner but sang very little compared to Controls. In contrast, males treated with a V1aR antagonist sang significantly less than Controls, but did not differ in affiliation. These effects on behavior in males were also reflected in changes in the expression of V1aR and immediate early gene activity in three brain regions known to be involved in pairing behavior in birds: the medial amygdala, medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, and the lateral septum. AVT males had higher V1aR expression in the medial amygdala than both Control and antagonist-treated males and immediate early gene activity of V1aR neurons in the medial amygdala was positively correlated with affiliation. Antagonist treated males showed decreased activity in the medial amygdala. In addition, there was a negative correlation between the activity of V1aR cells in the medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and singing. Treatment also affected the expression of V1aR and activity in the lateral septum, but this was not correlated with any behaviors measured. These results provide evidence that AVT and V1aR play developmental roles in specific pair maintenance behaviors and the neural substrate underlying these behaviors in a bird. PMID:27065824

  7. Features of the Retinotopic Representation in the Visual Wulst of a Laterally Eyed Bird, the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

    PubMed Central

    Michael, Neethu; Löwel, Siegrid; Bischof, Hans-Joachim

    2015-01-01

    The visual wulst of the zebra finch comprises at least two retinotopic maps of the contralateral eye. As yet, it is not known how much of the visual field is represented in the wulst neuronal maps, how the organization of the maps is related to the retinal architecture, and how information from the ipsilateral eye is involved in the activation of the wulst. Here, we have used autofluorescent flavoprotein imaging and classical anatomical methods to investigate such characteristics of the most posterior map of the multiple retinotopic representations. We found that the visual wulst can be activated by visual stimuli from a large part of the visual field of the contralateral eye. Horizontally, the visual field representation extended from -5° beyond the beak tip up to +125° laterally. Vertically, a small strip from -10° below to about +25° above the horizon activated the visual wulst. Although retinal ganglion cells had a much higher density around the fovea and along a strip extending from the fovea towards the beak tip, these areas were not overrepresented in the wulst map. The wulst area activated from the foveal region of the ipsilateral eye, overlapped substantially with the middle of the three contralaterally activated regions in the visual wulst, and partially with the other two. Visual wulst activity evoked by stimulation of the frontal visual field was stronger with contralateral than with binocular stimulation. This confirms earlier electrophysiological studies indicating an inhibitory influence of the activation of the ipsilateral eye on wulst activity elicited by stimulating the contralateral eye. The lack of a foveal overrepresentation suggests that identification of objects may not be the primary task of the zebra finch visual wulst. Instead, this brain area may be involved in the processing of visual information necessary for spatial orientation. PMID:25853253

  8. Features of the retinotopic representation in the visual wulst of a laterally eyed bird, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Michael, Neethu; Löwel, Siegrid; Bischof, Hans-Joachim

    2015-01-01

    The visual wulst of the zebra finch comprises at least two retinotopic maps of the contralateral eye. As yet, it is not known how much of the visual field is represented in the wulst neuronal maps, how the organization of the maps is related to the retinal architecture, and how information from the ipsilateral eye is involved in the activation of the wulst. Here, we have used autofluorescent flavoprotein imaging and classical anatomical methods to investigate such characteristics of the most posterior map of the multiple retinotopic representations. We found that the visual wulst can be activated by visual stimuli from a large part of the visual field of the contralateral eye. Horizontally, the visual field representation extended from -5° beyond the beak tip up to +125° laterally. Vertically, a small strip from -10° below to about +25° above the horizon activated the visual wulst. Although retinal ganglion cells had a much higher density around the fovea and along a strip extending from the fovea towards the beak tip, these areas were not overrepresented in the wulst map. The wulst area activated from the foveal region of the ipsilateral eye, overlapped substantially with the middle of the three contralaterally activated regions in the visual wulst, and partially with the other two. Visual wulst activity evoked by stimulation of the frontal visual field was stronger with contralateral than with binocular stimulation. This confirms earlier electrophysiological studies indicating an inhibitory influence of the activation of the ipsilateral eye on wulst activity elicited by stimulating the contralateral eye. The lack of a foveal overrepresentation suggests that identification of objects may not be the primary task of the zebra finch visual wulst. Instead, this brain area may be involved in the processing of visual information necessary for spatial orientation. PMID:25853253

  9. Alteration of CaBP Expression Pattern in the Nucleus Magnocellularis following Unilateral Cochlear Ablation in Adult Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Li, Jie; Zhou, Xin; Huang, Li; Fu, Xin; Liu, Jin; Zhang, Xinwen; Sun, Yingyu; Zuo, Mingxue

    2013-01-01

    Songbirds have the rare ability of auditory-vocal learning and maintenance. Up to now, the organization and function of the nucleus magnocellularis (NM), the first relay of the avian ascending auditory pathway is largely based on studies in non-vocal learning species, such as chickens and owls. To investigate whether NM exhibits different histochemical properties associated with auditory processing in songbirds, we examined the expression patterns of three calcium-binding proteins (CaBPs), including calretinin (CR), parvalbumin (PV) and calbindin-D28k (CB), and their relations to auditory inputs in NM in adult zebra finches. We found enriched and co-localized immunostaining of CR, PV and CB in the majority of NM neurons, without neuronal population preference. Furthermore, they were sensitive to adult deafferentation with differential plasticity patterns. After unilateral cochlear removal, CR staining in the ipsilateral NM decreased appreciably at 3 days after surgery, and continued to decline thereafter. PV staining showed down-regulation first at 3 days, but subsequently recovered slightly. CB staining did not significantly decrease until 7 days after surgery. Our findings suggest that the three CaBPs might play distinct roles in association with auditory processing in zebra finches. These results are in contrast to the findings in the NM of chickens where CR is the predominant CaBP and deafferentation had no apparent effect on its expression. Further extended studies in other avian species are required to establish whether the difference in CaBP patterns in NM is functionally related to the different auditory-vocal behaviors. PMID:24244471

  10. Differential coexpression of FoxP1, FoxP2, and FoxP4 in the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) song system.

    PubMed

    Mendoza, Ezequiel; Tokarev, Kirill; Düring, Daniel N; Retamosa, Eva Camarillo; Weiss, Michael; Arpenik, Nshdejan; Scharff, Constance

    2015-06-15

    Heterozygous disruptions of the Forkhead transcription factor FoxP2 impair acquisition of speech and language. Experimental downregulation in brain region Area X of the avian ortholog FoxP2 disrupts song learning in juvenile male zebra finches. In vitro, transcriptional activity of FoxP2 requires dimerization with itself or with paralogs FoxP1 and FoxP4. Whether this is the case in vivo is unknown. To provide the means for future functional studies we cloned FoxP4 from zebra finches and compared regional and cellular coexpression of FoxP1, FoxP2, and FoxP4 mRNA and protein in brains of juvenile and adult male zebra finches. In the telencephalic song nuclei HVC, RA, and Area X, the three investigated FoxPs were either expressed alone or occurred in specific combinations with each other, as shown by double in situ hybridization and triple immunohistochemistry. FoxP1 and FoxP4 but not FoxP2 were expressed in RA and in the HVCRA and HVCX projection neurons. In Area X and the surrounding striatum the density of neurons expressing all three FoxPs together or FoxP1 and FoxP4 together was significantly higher than the density of neurons expressing other combinations. Interestingly, the proportions of Area X neurons expressing particular combinations of FoxPs remained constant at all ages. In addition, FoxP-expressing neurons in adult Area X express dopamine receptors 1A, 1B, and 2. Together, these data provide the first evidence that Area X neurons can coexpress all avian FoxP subfamily members, thus allowing for a variety of regulatory possibilities via heterodimerization that could impact song behavior in zebra finches. PMID:25556631

  11. Developmental but not adult cannabinoid treatments persistently alter axonal and dendritic morphology within brain regions important for zebra finch vocal learning

    PubMed Central

    Gilbert, Marcoita T.; Soderstrom, Ken

    2014-01-01

    Prior work shows developmental cannabinoid exposure alters zebra finch vocal development in a manner associated with altered CNS physiology, including changes in patterns of CB1 receptor immunoreactivity, endocannabinoid concentrations and dendritic spine densities. These results raise questions about the selectivity of developmental cannabinoid effects: are they a consequence of a generalized developmental disruption, or are effects produced through more selective and distinct interactions with biochemical pathways that control receptor, endogenous ligand and dendritic spine dynamics? To begin to address this question we have examined effects of developmental cannabinoid exposure on the pattern and density of expression of proteins critical to dendritic (MAP2) and axonal (Nf-200) structure to determine the extent to which dendritic vs. axonal neuronal morphology may be altered. Results demonstrate developmental, but not adult cannabinoid treatments produce generalized changes in expression of both dendritic and axonal cytoskeletal proteins within brain regions and cells known to express CB1 cannabinoid receptors. Results clearly demonstrate that cannabinoid exposure during a period of sensorimotor development, but not adulthood, produce profound effects upon both dendritic and axonal morphology that persist through at least early adulthood. These findings suggest an ability of exogenous cannabinoids to alter general processes responsible for normal brain development. Results also further implicate the importance of endocannabinoid signaling to peri-pubertal periods of adolescence, and underscore potential consequences of cannabinoid abuse during periods of late-postnatal CNS development. PMID:24594017

  12. Living with the Past: Nutritional Stress in Juvenile Males Has Immediate Effects on their Plumage Ornaments and on Adult Attractiveness in Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Naguib, Marc; Nemitz, Andrea

    2007-01-01

    The environmental conditions individuals experience during early development are well known to have fundamental effects on a variety of fitness-relevant traits. Although it is evident that the earliest developmental stages have large effects on fitness, other developmental stages, such as the period when secondary sexual characters develop, might also exert a profound effect on fitness components. Here we show experimentally in male zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, that nutritional conditions during this later period have immediate effects on male plumage ornaments and on their attractiveness as adults. Males that had received high quality food during the second month of life, a period when secondary sexual characteristics develop, were significantly more attractive as adults in mate choice tests than siblings supplied with standard food during this period. Preferred males that had experienced better nutritional conditions had larger orange cheek patches when nutritional treatments ended than did unpreferred males. Sexual plumage ornaments of young males thus are honest indicators of nutritional conditions during this period. The mate choice tests with adult birds indicate that nutritional conditions during the period of song learning, brain and gonad development, and moult into adult plumage have persisting effects on male attractiveness. This suggests that the developmental period following nutritional dependence from the parents is just as important in affecting adult attractiveness as are much earlier developmental periods. These findings thus contribute to understanding the origin and consequences of environmentally determined fitness components. PMID:17878936

  13. Dopamine binds to α2-adrenergic receptors in the song control system of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

    PubMed Central

    Cornil, Charlotte A.; Castelino, Christina B.; Ball, Gregory F.

    2008-01-01

    A commonly held view is that dopamine exerts its effects via binding to D1- and D2-dopaminergic receptors. However, recent data have emerged supporting the existence of a direct interaction of dopamine with adrenergic receptors. Dopamine may also directly bind adrenergic receptors but this interaction has been poorly investigated. In this study, the pharmacological basis of possible in vivo interactions between dopamine and α2-adrenergic receptors was investigated in zebra finches. A binding competition study showed that dopamine displaces the binding of the selective α2-adrenergic ligand, [3H]RX821002, in the brain. The affinity of dopamine for the adrenergic sites does not differ between the sexes and is 10-28-fold lower than that for norepinephrine. To assess the anatomical distribution of this interaction, binding competitions were performed on brain slices incubated in 5nM [3H]RX821002 in the absence of any competitor or in the presence of norepinephrine or dopamine. Both norepinephrine and dopamine displaced the binding of the radioligand though to a different extent in most of the regions studied (e.g., Area X, the lateral part of the magnocellular nucleus of anterior nidopallium, HVC, arcopallium dorsale, ventral tegmental area and substantia grisea centralis) but not in the robust nucleus of the arcopallium. Together these data provide evidence for a direct interaction between dopamine and adrenergic receptors in songbird brains albeit with regional variation. PMID:18155403

  14. Body condition and immune response in wild zebra finches: effects of capture, confinement and captive-rearing

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ewenson, Erynne; Zann, Richard; Flannery, Graham

    2001-08-01

    Behavioural ecologists attempt to predict fitness in birds from estimates of body condition and immune capacity. We investigated how the stresses associated with capture, confinement and captive-rearing of wild zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) affected different elements of the immune system and body condition. Wild birds had higher heterophil:lymphocyte ratios and total leucocyte counts than aviary birds, presumably an outcome of mounting specific resistance to pathogens, but this response diminished significantly within 10 days of confinement. Wild birds had lower phytohaemagglutinin-A (PHA) responses than their aviary-bred counterparts possibly because energetic costs limited a general resistance response. Wild birds were heavier and had higher haematocrits than their aviary counterparts, but had less fat, although just 10 days of captivity significantly increased fat levels. Measures of body condition were of limited use for predicting immune responsiveness. We conclude that the different elements of the immune system and body condition respond independently, and often unpredictably, to many ecological and behavioural stressors.

  15. Arrhythmic Song Exposure Increases ZENK Expression in Auditory Cortical Areas and Nucleus Taeniae of the Adult Zebra Finch

    PubMed Central

    Lampen, Jennifer; Jones, Katherine; McAuley, J. Devin; Chang, Soo-Eun; Wade, Juli

    2014-01-01

    Rhythm is important in the production of motor sequences such as speech and song. Deficits in rhythm processing have been implicated in human disorders that affect speech and language processing, including stuttering, autism, and dyslexia. Songbirds provide a tractable model for studying the neural underpinnings of rhythm processing due to parallels with humans in neural structures and vocal learning patterns. In this study, adult zebra finches were exposed to naturally rhythmic conspecific song or arrhythmic song. Immunohistochemistry for the immediate early gene ZENK was used to detect neural activation in response to these two types of stimuli. ZENK was increased in response to arrhythmic song in the auditory association cortex homologs, caudomedial nidopallium (NCM) and caudomedial mesopallium (CMM), and the avian amygdala, nucleus taeniae (Tn). CMM also had greater ZENK labeling in females than males. The increased neural activity in NCM and CMM during perception of arrhythmic stimuli parallels increased activity in the human auditory cortex following exposure to unexpected, or perturbed, auditory stimuli. These auditory areas may be detecting errors in arrhythmic song when comparing it to a stored template of how conspecific song is expected to sound. CMM may also be important for females in evaluating songs of potential mates. In the context of other research in songbirds, we suggest that the increased activity in Tn may be related to the value of song for assessing mate choice and bonding or it may be related to perception of arrhythmic song as aversive. PMID:25259620

  16. Co-localization of Sorting Nexin 2 and Androgen Receptor in the Song System of Juvenile Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Wu, Di; Tang, Yu Ping; Wade, Juli

    2010-01-01

    Mechanisms regulating sexual differentiation of the zebra finch song system appear to include both genetic and hormonal factors. Sorting Nexin 2 (SNX2), which is involved in trafficking proteins between cellular membranes, and androgen receptor (AR) mRNA are both increased in song control nuclei of juvenile males compared to females. Here, in situ hybridization for SNX2 and immunohistochemistry for AR were used to evaluate these sexual dimorphisms in more detail. Estimates of the total number of HVC cells expressing SNX2 and AR, individually as well as together, were greater in 25-day-old males compared to females. The densities of these types of cells were generally also increased in males compared to females in HVC and Area X (or the equivalent portion of the medial striatum in females). On average, more than half of the AR+ cells co-expressed SNX2 in both brain regions. The potential, therefore, exists for both AR and SNX2 to be involved in masculinization of these two brain regions. One possibility is that they, either separately or in conjunction, enhance the action of trophic factors within the brain. PMID:20452330

  17. Multiple Visual Field Representations in the Visual Wulst of a Laterally Eyed Bird, the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

    PubMed Central

    2016-01-01

    The visual wulst is the telencephalic target of the avian thalamofugal visual system. It contains several retinotopically organised representations of the contralateral visual field. We used optical imaging of intrinsic signals, electrophysiological recordings, and retrograde tracing with two fluorescent tracers to evaluate properties of these representations in the zebra finch, a songbird with laterally placed eyes. Our experiments revealed that there is some variability of the neuronal maps between individuals and also concerning the number of detectable maps. It was nonetheless possible to identify three different maps, a posterolateral, a posteromedial, and an anterior one, which were quite constant in their relation to each other. The posterolateral map was in contrast to the two others constantly visible in each successful experiment. The topography of the two other maps was mirrored against that map. Electrophysiological recordings in the anterior and the posterolateral map revealed that all units responded to flashes and to moving bars. Mean directional preferences as well as latencies were different between neurons of the two maps. Tracing experiments confirmed previous reports on the thalamo-wulst connections and showed that the anterior and the posterolateral map receive projections from separate clusters within the thalamic nuclei. Maps are connected to each other by wulst intrinsic projections. Our experiments confirm that the avian visual wulst contains several separate retinotopic maps with both different physiological properties and different thalamo-wulst afferents. This confirms that the functional organization of the visual wulst is very similar to its mammalian equivalent, the visual cortex. PMID:27139912

  18. Young, active and well-connected: adult-born neurons in the zebra finch are activated during singing.

    PubMed

    Tokarev, Kirill; Boender, Arjen J; Claßen, Gala A E; Scharff, Constance

    2016-05-01

    Neuronal replacement in the pallial song control nucleus HVC of adult zebra finches constitutes an interesting case of homeostatic plasticity; in spite of continuous addition and attrition of neurons in ensembles that code song elements, adult song remains remarkably invariant. New neurons migrate into HVC and later synapse with their target, arcopallial song nucleus RA (HVCRA). New HVCRA neurons respond to auditory stimuli (in anaesthetised animals), but whether and when they become functionally active during singing is unknown. We studied this, using 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine to birth-date neurons, combined with immunohistochemical detection of immediate-early gene (IEG) expression and retrograde tracer injections into RA to track connectivity. Interestingly, singing was followed by IEG expression in a substantial fraction of new neurons that were not retrogradely labelled from RA, suggesting a possible role in HVC-intrinsic network function. As new HVC neurons matured, the proportion of HVCRA neurons that expressed IEGs after singing increased significantly. Since it was previously shown that singing induces IEG expression in HVC also in deaf birds and that hearing song does not induce IEG expression in HVC, our data provide the first direct evidence that new HVC neurons are engaged in song motor behaviour. PMID:25687260

  19. Multiple Visual Field Representations in the Visual Wulst of a Laterally Eyed Bird, the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Bischof, Hans-Joachim; Eckmeier, Dennis; Keary, Nina; Löwel, Siegrid; Mayer, Uwe; Michael, Neethu

    2016-01-01

    The visual wulst is the telencephalic target of the avian thalamofugal visual system. It contains several retinotopically organised representations of the contralateral visual field. We used optical imaging of intrinsic signals, electrophysiological recordings, and retrograde tracing with two fluorescent tracers to evaluate properties of these representations in the zebra finch, a songbird with laterally placed eyes. Our experiments revealed that there is some variability of the neuronal maps between individuals and also concerning the number of detectable maps. It was nonetheless possible to identify three different maps, a posterolateral, a posteromedial, and an anterior one, which were quite constant in their relation to each other. The posterolateral map was in contrast to the two others constantly visible in each successful experiment. The topography of the two other maps was mirrored against that map. Electrophysiological recordings in the anterior and the posterolateral map revealed that all units responded to flashes and to moving bars. Mean directional preferences as well as latencies were different between neurons of the two maps. Tracing experiments confirmed previous reports on the thalamo-wulst connections and showed that the anterior and the posterolateral map receive projections from separate clusters within the thalamic nuclei. Maps are connected to each other by wulst intrinsic projections. Our experiments confirm that the avian visual wulst contains several separate retinotopic maps with both different physiological properties and different thalamo-wulst afferents. This confirms that the functional organization of the visual wulst is very similar to its mammalian equivalent, the visual cortex. PMID:27139912

  20. Effect of Vocal Nerve Section on Song and ZENK Protein Expression in Area X in Adult Male Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Liao, Congshu; Li, Dongfeng

    2012-01-01

    ZENK expression in vocal nuclei is associated with singing behavior. Area X is an important nucleus for learning and stabilizing birdsong. ZENK expression is higher in Area X compared to that in other vocal nuclei when birds are singing. To reveal the relationship between the ZENK expression in Area X and song crystallization, immunohistochemistry was used to detect ZENK protein expression in Area X after the unilateral vocal nerve (tracheosyringeal nerve) section in adult male zebra finches. Sham operations had no effect on song. In contrast, section of unilateral vocal nerve could induce song decrystallization at the 7th day after the surgery. The spectral and the temporal features of birdsong were distorted more significantly in the right-side vocal nerve section than in the left-side vocal nerve section. In addition, after surgery, ZENK expression was higher in the right-side of Area X than in the left-side. These results indicate that the vocal nerve innervations probably are right-side dominant. ZENK expression in both sides of Area X decreased, as compared to control group after surgery, which suggests that the ZENK expression in Area X is related to birdsong crystallization, and that there is cooperation between the Area X in AFP and syrinx nerve. PMID:23251821

  1. Neighbours' Breeding Success and the Sex Ratio of Their Offspring Affect the Mate Preferences of Female Zebra Finches

    PubMed Central

    Drullion, Dominique; Dubois, Frédérique

    2011-01-01

    Several hypotheses on divorce predict that monogamous pairs should split up more frequently after a breeding failure. Yet, deviations from the expected pattern “success-stay, failure-leave” have been reported in several species. One possible explanation for these deviations would be that individuals do not use only their own breeding performance (i.e., private information) but also that of others (i.e., public information) to decide whether or not to divorce. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the relative importance of private and public information for mate choice decisions in female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).We manipulated the reproductive performance of breeding pairs and measured females' preferences for their mate and the neighbouring male first following pair formation and then seven weeks later when all females had laid eggs and the young were independent. Although all females reduced their preference for their mate after a breeding failure, the decrease was significant only when the neighbouring pair had reproduced successfully. Furthermore, there was no evidence that females biased the sex ratio of their offspring according to their mate's attractiveness. On the other hand, after reproduction, both successful and unsuccessful females increased their preferences for males who had produced a larger proportion of sons. Despite the fact that other mechanisms may have also contributed to our findings, we suggest that females changed their mate preferences based on the proportion of sons produced by successful males, because offspring sex ratio reflects the male's testosterone level at the moment of fertilization and hence is an indicator of his immune condition. PMID:22216351

  2. Activation Changes in Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata) Brain Areas Evoked by Alterations of the Earth Magnetic Field

    PubMed Central

    Keary, Nina; Bischof, Hans-Joachim

    2012-01-01

    Many animals are able to perceive the earth magnetic field and to use it for orientation and navigation within the environment. The mechanisms underlying the perception and processing of magnetic field information within the brain have been thoroughly studied, especially in birds, but are still obscure. Three hypotheses are currently discussed, dealing with ferromagnetic particles in the beak of birds, with the same sort of particles within the lagena organs, or describing magnetically influenced radical-pair processes within retinal photopigments. Each hypothesis is related to a well-known sensory organ and claims parallel processing of magnetic field information with somatosensory, vestibular and visual input, respectively. Changes in activation within nuclei of the respective sensory systems have been shown previously. Most of these previous experiments employed intensity enhanced magnetic stimuli or lesions. We here exposed unrestrained zebra finches to either a stationary or a rotating magnetic field of the local intensity and inclination. C-Fos was used as an activity marker to examine whether the two treatments led to differences in fourteen brain areas including nuclei of the somatosensory, vestibular and visual system. An ANOVA revealed an overall effect of treatment, indicating that the magnetic field change was perceived by the birds. While the differences were too small to be significant in most areas, a significant enhancement of activation by the rotating stimulus was found in a hippocampal subdivision. Part of the hyperpallium showed a strong, nearly significant, increase. Our results are compatible with previous studies demonstrating an involvement of at least three different sensory systems in earth magnetic field perception and suggest that these systems, probably less elaborated, may also be found in nonmigrating birds. PMID:22679515

  3. Neighbours' breeding success and the sex ratio of their offspring affect the mate preferences of female zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Drullion, Dominique; Dubois, Frédérique

    2011-01-01

    Several hypotheses on divorce predict that monogamous pairs should split up more frequently after a breeding failure. Yet, deviations from the expected pattern "success-stay, failure-leave" have been reported in several species. One possible explanation for these deviations would be that individuals do not use only their own breeding performance (i.e., private information) but also that of others (i.e., public information) to decide whether or not to divorce. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the relative importance of private and public information for mate choice decisions in female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).We manipulated the reproductive performance of breeding pairs and measured females' preferences for their mate and the neighbouring male first following pair formation and then seven weeks later when all females had laid eggs and the young were independent. Although all females reduced their preference for their mate after a breeding failure, the decrease was significant only when the neighbouring pair had reproduced successfully. Furthermore, there was no evidence that females biased the sex ratio of their offspring according to their mate's attractiveness. On the other hand, after reproduction, both successful and unsuccessful females increased their preferences for males who had produced a larger proportion of sons. Despite the fact that other mechanisms may have also contributed to our findings, we suggest that females changed their mate preferences based on the proportion of sons produced by successful males, because offspring sex ratio reflects the male's testosterone level at the moment of fertilization and hence is an indicator of his immune condition. PMID:22216351

  4. Male foraging efficiency, but not male problem-solving performance, influences female mating preferences in zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Chantal, Véronique

    2016-01-01

    Experimental evidence suggests that females would prefer males with better cognitive abilities as mates. However, little is known about the traits reflecting enhanced cognitive skills on which females might base their mate-choice decisions. In particular, it has been suggested that male foraging performance could be used as an indicator of cognitive capacity, but convincing evidence for this hypothesis is still lacking. In the present study, we investigated whether female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) modify their mating preferences after having observed the performance of males on a problem-solving task. Specifically, we measured the females’ preferences between two males once before and once after an observation period, during which their initially preferred male was incapable of solving the task contrary to their initially less-preferred male. We also conducted a control treatment to test whether the shift in female preferences was attributable to differences between the two stimulus males in their foraging efficiency. Finally, we assessed each bird’s performance in a color associative task to check whether females can discriminate among males based on their learning speed. We found that females significantly increased their preference toward the most efficient male in both treatments. Yet, there was no difference between the two treatments and we found no evidence that females assess male cognitive ability indirectly via morphological traits. Thus, our results suggest that females would not use the males’ problem-solving performance as an indicator of general cognitive ability to gain indirect fitness benefits (i.e., good genes) but rather to assess their foraging efficiency and gain direct benefits.

  5. Correlates of male fitness in captive zebra finches - a comparison of methods to disentangle genetic and environmental effects

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Backgound It is a common observation in evolutionary studies that larger, more ornamented or earlier breeding individuals have higher fitness, but that body size, ornamentation or breeding time does not change despite of sometimes substantial heritability for these traits. A possible explanation for this is that these traits do not causally affect fitness, but rather happen to be indirectly correlated with fitness via unmeasured non-heritable aspects of condition (e.g. undernourished offspring grow small and have low fitness as adults due to poor health). Whether this explanation applies to a specific case can be examined by decomposing the covariance between trait and fitness into its genetic and environmental components using pedigree-based animal models. We here examine different methods of doing this for a captive zebra finch population where male fitness was measured in communal aviaries in relation to three phenotypic traits (tarsus length, beak colour and song rate). Results Our case study illustrates how methods that regress fitness over breeding values for phenotypic traits yield biased estimates as well as anti-conservative standard errors. Hence, it is necessary to estimate the genetic and environmental covariances between trait and fitness directly from a bivariate model. This method, however, is very demanding in terms of sample sizes. In our study parameter estimates of selection gradients for tarsus were consistent with the hypothesis of environmentally induced bias (βA = 0.035 ± 0.25 (SE), βE = 0.57 ± 0.28 (SE)), yet this differences between genetic and environmental selection gradients falls short of statistical significance. Conclusions To examine the generality of the idea that phenotypic selection gradients for certain traits (like size) are consistently upwardly biased by environmental covariance a meta-analysis across study systems will be needed. PMID:22067225

  6. Acute embryotoxic effects but no long-term reproductive effects of in ovo methylmercury exposure in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Yu, Maria S; Eng, Margaret L; Williams, Tony D; Basu, Niladri; Elliott, John E

    2016-06-01

    Mercury bioaccumulates in terrestrial ecosystems as methylmercury (MeHg), yet little is known about its effects on terrestrial organisms, including songbirds. The authors used a model songbird species, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), to assess short-term embryotoxic effects of in ovo MeHg exposure on hatching success and posthatching growth and nestling survival, as well as longer-term effects on mating behavior and reproduction. Egg treatment groups included a low-MeHg dose of 0.2 μg Hg g(-1) egg (n = 36), a high-MeHg dose of 3.2 μg Hg g(-1) egg (n = 49), and a control (n = 34). Doses were dissolved in nanopure filtered water and injected into the albumen on the day eggs showed signs of viability (3 d incubation). In ovo exposure to MeHg significantly reduced hatching success (53% in the high-MeHg dose group vs 94% in vehicle controls). Among hatched chicks, however, no effects of MeHg on growth, hematological variables, or nestling survival were detected. While the in ovo injection method resulted in a dose-dependent pattern of MeHg concentrations in blood of surviving chicks at 15 d and 30 d posthatching, there was evidence of rapid excretion of MeHg with nestling age during that growth period. At reproductive maturity (90 d of age), no long-term effects of in ovo exposure to MeHg on female mating behavior, reproductive effort (egg or clutch size), or growth and survivorship of offspring were observed. Environ Toxicol Chem 2016;35:1534-1540. © 2015 SETAC. PMID:26573953

  7. Food, stress, and circulating testosterone: Cue integration by the testes, not the brain, in male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Lynn, Sharon E; Perfito, Nicole; Guardado, Daisy; Bentley, George E

    2015-05-01

    Food abundance is closely associated with reproductive readiness in vertebrates. Food scarcity can activate the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, decrease sex steroid secretion, and dampen reproductive behavior. However, the mechanisms underlying these transient effects are unclear. Gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH), a neuropeptide present in the brain and gonads, is also influenced by glucocorticoids and fasting in some species. We investigated whether fasting stress activated the GnIH system in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), with the potential for downstream effects on reproductive physiology and behavior. We fasted or fed males ad libitum for 10h. Fasting increased corticosterone and decreased testosterone in circulation. To assess whether the decrease in testosterone was mediated by changes in the hypothalamus and/or the gonads, we (1) quantified GnRH- and GnIH-positive neurons in the hypothalamus, (2) assessed hypothalamic gene expression for GnRH and GnIH, and (3) examined gene expression for proteins involved in testosterone synthesis in fasted and control birds. No measure of hypothalamic neuropeptides was related to treatment or circulating steroids. However, birds with higher corticosterone had higher testicular GnIH expression and lower testosterone. StAR and LHR expression were lower in the testes of fasted birds than controls. Thus, the decrease in testosterone was not likely mediated by hypothalamic GnIH, but rather by direct actions of fasting and/or corticosterone on the testes, indicating that the testes can integrate and respond to cues of stress directly. Such local inhibition of testosterone synthesis may allow for rapid and reversible changes in physiology and behavior when conditions are inappropriate for breeding. PMID:25849310

  8. The songbird syrinx morphome: a three-dimensional, high-resolution, interactive morphological map of the zebra finch vocal organ

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Background Like human infants, songbirds learn their species-specific vocalizations through imitation learning. The birdsong system has emerged as a widely used experimental animal model for understanding the underlying neural mechanisms responsible for vocal production learning. However, how neural impulses are translated into the precise motor behavior of the complex vocal organ (syrinx) to create song is poorly understood. First and foremost, we lack a detailed understanding of syringeal morphology. Results To fill this gap we combined non-invasive (high-field magnetic resonance imaging and micro-computed tomography) and invasive techniques (histology and micro-dissection) to construct the annotated high-resolution three-dimensional dataset, or morphome, of the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) syrinx. We identified and annotated syringeal cartilage, bone and musculature in situ in unprecedented detail. We provide interactive three-dimensional models that greatly improve the communication of complex morphological data and our understanding of syringeal function in general. Conclusions Our results show that the syringeal skeleton is optimized for low weight driven by physiological constraints on song production. The present refinement of muscle organization and identity elucidates how apposed muscles actuate different syringeal elements. Our dataset allows for more precise predictions about muscle co-activation and synergies and has important implications for muscle activity and stimulation experiments. We also demonstrate how the syrinx can be stabilized during song to reduce mechanical noise and, as such, enhance repetitive execution of stereotypic motor patterns. In addition, we identify a cartilaginous structure suited to play a crucial role in the uncoupling of sound frequency and amplitude control, which permits a novel explanation of the evolutionary success of songbirds. PMID:23294804

  9. Food for Song: Expression of C-Fos and ZENK in the Zebra Finch Song Nuclei during Food Aversion Learning

    PubMed Central

    Tokarev, Kirill; Tiunova, Anna

    2011-01-01

    Background Specialized neural pathways, the song system, are required for acquiring, producing, and perceiving learned avian vocalizations. Birds that do not learn to produce their vocalizations lack telencephalic song system components. It is not known whether the song system forebrain regions are exclusively evolved for song or whether they also process information not related to song that might reflect their ‘evolutionary history’. Methodology/Principal Findings To address this question we monitored the induction of two immediate-early genes (IEGs) c-Fos and ZENK in various regions of the song system in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) in response to an aversive food learning paradigm; this involves the association of a food item with a noxious stimulus that affects the oropharyngeal-esophageal cavity and tongue, causing subsequent avoidance of that food item. The motor response results in beak and head movements but not vocalizations. IEGs have been extensively used to map neuro-molecular correlates of song motor production and auditory processing. As previously reported, neurons in two pallial vocal motor regions, HVC and RA, expressed IEGs after singing. Surprisingly, c-Fos was induced equivalently also after food aversion learning in the absence of singing. The density of c-Fos positive neurons was significantly higher than that of birds in control conditions. This was not the case in two other pallial song nuclei important for vocal plasticity, LMAN and Area X, although singing did induce IEGs in these structures, as reported previously. Conclusions/Significance Our results are consistent with the possibility that some of the song nuclei may participate in non-vocal learning and the populations of neurons involved in the two tasks show partial overlap. These findings underscore the previously advanced notion that the specialized forebrain pre-motor nuclei controlling song evolved from circuits involved in behaviors related to feeding. PMID:21695176

  10. Two-photon deep imaging through skin and skull of Zebra finches: preliminary studies for in-vivo brain metabolism monitoring

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Abi-Haidar, D.; Olivier, T.; Mottin, S.; Vignal, C.; Mathevon, N.

    2007-02-01

    Zebra Finches are songbirds which constitute a model for neuro-ethologists to study the neuro-mechanisms of vocal recognition. For this purpose, in vivo and non invasive monitoring of brain activity is required during acoustical stimulation. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or NIRS (Near InfraRed Spectroscopy) are suitable methods for these measurements, even though MRI is difficult to link quantitatively with neural activity and NIRS suffers from a poor resolution. In the particular case of songbirds (whose skin is thin and quite transparent and whose skull structure is hollow), two-photon microscopy enables a quite deep penetration in tissues and could be an alternative. We present here preliminary studies on the feasability of two-photon microscopy in these conditions. To do so, we chose to image hollow fibers, filled with Rhodamine B, through the skin of Zebra finches in order to evaluate the spatial resolution we may expect in future in vivo experiments. Moreover, we used the reflectance-mode confocal configuration to evaluate the exponential decrease of backreflected light in skin and in skull samples. Following this procedure recently proposed by S.L. Jacques and co-workers, we planned to determine the scattering coefficient μ s and the anisotropy g of these tissues and make a comparison between fixed and fresh skin and skull samples for future Monte Carlo simulations of the scattering in our particular multi-layered structure.

  11. The vocal repertoire of the domesticated zebra finch: a data-driven approach to decipher the information-bearing acoustic features of communication signals.

    PubMed

    Elie, Julie E; Theunissen, Frédéric E

    2016-03-01

    Although a universal code for the acoustic features of animal vocal communication calls may not exist, the thorough analysis of the distinctive acoustical features of vocalization categories is important not only to decipher the acoustical code for a specific species but also to understand the evolution of communication signals and the mechanisms used to produce and understand them. Here, we recorded more than 8000 examples of almost all the vocalizations of the domesticated zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata: vocalizations produced to establish contact, to form and maintain pair bonds, to sound an alarm, to communicate distress or to advertise hunger or aggressive intents. We characterized each vocalization type using complete representations that avoided any a priori assumptions on the acoustic code, as well as classical bioacoustics measures that could provide more intuitive interpretations. We then used these acoustical features to rigorously determine the potential information-bearing acoustical features for each vocalization type using both a novel regularized classifier and an unsupervised clustering algorithm. Vocalization categories are discriminated by the shape of their frequency spectrum and by their pitch saliency (noisy to tonal vocalizations) but not particularly by their fundamental frequency. Notably, the spectral shape of zebra finch vocalizations contains peaks or formants that vary systematically across categories and that would be generated by active control of both the vocal organ (source) and the upper vocal tract (filter). PMID:26581377

  12. Learning to cope with degraded sounds: female zebra finches can improve their expertise in discriminating between male voices at long distances

    PubMed Central

    Mouterde, Solveig C.; Elie, Julie E.; Theunissen, Frédéric E.; Mathevon, Nicolas

    2014-01-01

    Reliable transmission of acoustic information about individual identity is of critical importance for pair bond maintenance in numerous monogamous songbirds. However, information transfer can be impaired by environmental constraints such as external noise or propagation-induced degradation. Birds have been shown to use several adaptive strategies to deal with difficult signal transmission contexts. Specifically, a number of studies have suggested that vocal plasticity at the emitter's level allows birds to counteract the deleterious effects of sound degradation. Although the communication process involves both the emitter and the receiver, perceptual plasticity at the receiver's level has received little attention. Here, we explored the reliability of individual recognition by female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), testing whether perceptual training can improve discrimination of degraded individual vocal signatures. We found that female zebra finches are proficient in discriminating between calls of individual males at long distances, and even more so when they can train themselves with increasingly degraded signals over time. In this latter context, females succeed in discriminating between males as far as 250 m. This result emphasizes that adaptation to adverse communication conditions may involve not only the emitter's vocal plasticity but also the receptor's decoding process through on-going learning. PMID:24948627

  13. Enriched Expression and Developmental Regulation of the Middle-Weight Neurofilament (NF-M) Gene in Song Control Nuclei of the Zebra Finch

    PubMed Central

    VELHO, TARCISO A.F.; LOVELL, PETER; MELLO, CLAUDIO V.

    2014-01-01

    Songbirds evolved a complex set of dimorphic telencephalic nuclei that are essential for the learning and production of song. These nuclei, which together make up the oscine song control system, present several neurochemical properties that distinguish them from the rest of the telencephalon. Here we show that the expression of the gene encoding the middle-weight neurofilament (NF-M), an important component of the neuronal cytoskeleton and a useful tool for studying the cytarchitectonic organization of mammalian cortical areas, is highly enriched in large neurons within pallial song control nuclei (nucleus HVC, robustus nucleus of the arcopallium, and lateral magnocellular nucleus of the nidopallium) of male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). We also show that this transcript is highly expressed in large neurons in the medulla, pons, midbrain, and thalamus. Moreover, we demonstrate that NF-M expression in song control nuclei changes during postembryonic development, peaking during an early phase of the song-learning period that coincides with the maturation of the song system. We did not observe changes in NF-M expression in auditory areas or in song control nuclei in the contexts of hearing song or singing, although these contexts result in marked induction of the transcription factor ZENK. This observation suggests that NF-M might not be under the regulatory control of ZENK in auditory areas or in song control nuclei. Overall, our data indicate that NF-M is a neurochemical marker for pallial song control nuclei and provide suggestive evidence of an involvement of NF-M in the development and/or maturation of the oscine song control system. PMID:17120287

  14. Estradiol induces region-specific inhibition of ZENK but does not affect the behavioral preference for tutored song in adult female zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Svec, Lace A.; Wade, Juli

    2009-01-01

    Female zebra finches display a preference for songs of males raised with tutors compared to those from males without tutors. To determine howthis behavioral preference may bemediated by auditory perception sites, the social behavior network, and the dopamine reward system, and whether responses of these regions are affected by estradiol, females were treated with hormone or blank implants.An auditory choice test was conducted followed by exposure to tutored or untutored song or silence to examine induction of the immediate early gene, ZENK. Birds spent significantly more time near tutored than untutored song, regardless of estrogen treatment, and estradiol significantly decreased the density of ZENK immunore-active neurons within the ventromedial hypothalamus. These results suggest that selective neural and behavioral responses can be induced by both high quality vocalizations and estradiol, although they are not necessarily correlated. PMID:19124043

  15. Functional genomic analysis and neuroanatomical localization of miR-2954, a song-responsive sex-linked microRNA in the zebra finch

    PubMed Central

    Lin, Ya-Chi; Balakrishnan, Christopher N.; Clayton, David F.

    2014-01-01

    Natural experience can cause complex changes in gene expression in brain centers for cognition and perception, but the mechanisms that link perceptual experience and neurogenomic regulation are not understood. MicroRNAs (miRNAs or miRs) have the potential to regulate large gene expression networks, and a previous study showed that a natural perceptual stimulus (hearing the sound of birdsong in zebra finches) triggers rapid changes in expression of several miRs in the auditory forebrain. Here we evaluate the functional potential of one of these, miR-2954, which has been found so far only in birds and is encoded on the Z sex chromosome. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, we show that miR-2954 is present in subsets of cells in the sexually dimorphic brain regions involved in song production and perception, with notable enrichment in cell nuclei. We then probe its regulatory function by inhibiting its expression in a zebra finch cell line (G266) and measuring effects on endogenous gene expression using Illumina RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). Approximately 1000 different mRNAs change in expression by 1.5-fold or more (adjusted p < 0.01), with increases in some but not all of the targets that had been predicted by Targetscan. The population of RNAs that increase after miR-2954 inhibition is notably enriched for ones involved in the MAP Kinase (MAPK) pathway, whereas the decreasing population is dominated by genes involved in ribosomes and mitochondrial function. Since song stimulation itself triggers a decrease in miR-2954 expression followed by a delayed decrease in genes encoding ribosomal and mitochondrial functions, we suggest that miR-2954 may mediate some of the neurogenomic effects of song habituation. PMID:25565940

  16. Activity in a Premotor Cortical Nucleus of Zebra Finches Is Locally Organized and Exhibits Auditory Selectivity in Neurons but Not in Glia

    PubMed Central

    Graber, Michael H.; Helmchen, Fritjof; Hahnloser, Richard H. R.

    2013-01-01

    Motor functions are often guided by sensory experience, most convincingly illustrated by complex learned behaviors. Key to sensory guidance in motor areas may be the structural and functional organization of sensory inputs and their evoked responses. We study sensory responses in large populations of neurons and neuron-assistive cells in the songbird motor area HVC, an auditory-vocal brain area involved in sensory learning and in adult song production. HVC spike responses to auditory stimulation display remarkable preference for the bird's own song (BOS) compared to other stimuli. Using two-photon calcium imaging in anesthetized zebra finches we measure the spatio-temporal structure of baseline activity and of auditory evoked responses in identified populations of HVC cells. We find strong correlations between calcium signal fluctuations in nearby cells of a given type, both in identified neurons and in astroglia. In identified HVC neurons only, auditory stimulation decorrelates ongoing calcium signals, less for BOS than for other sound stimuli. Overall, calcium transients show strong preference for BOS in identified HVC neurons but not in astroglia, showing diversity in local functional organization among identified neuron and astroglia populations. PMID:24312533

  17. Prolactin is related to individual differences in parental behavior and reproductive success in a biparental passerine, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).

    PubMed

    Smiley, Kristina O; Adkins-Regan, Elizabeth

    2016-08-01

    Variation in parental care can lead to important fitness consequences. The endocrine system is known to regulate physiological and behavioral reproductive traits that are important contributors to lifetime reproductive success. However, the hormonal basis of variation in avian parental care is still not well understood. Plasma prolactin (PRL) concentrations are generally high during post-hatch parental care in birds, and may be a candidate mechanism that regulates variation in parental care and other reproductive success outcomes. Here we analyze the relationship between PRL, parental behavior (chick brooding and feeding) and reproductive success outcomes (clutch size, number of chicks hatched, and chick survival) for the first time in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Birds were given cabergoline, a dopamine agonist traditionally used to lower prolactin in mammals, or vehicle in their food. Cabergoline had no effect on prolactin concentrations, but across both groups we found that PRL is positively correlated with parental behavior, number of chicks hatched, and chick survival, but not clutch size. Results from this study will inform hypotheses and predictions for future manipulation studies which test for a causal role for PRL in parental traits. PMID:26965952

  18. Characterization of the finch embryo supports evolutionary conservation of the naive stage of development in amniotes

    PubMed Central

    Mak, Siu-Shan; Alev, Cantas; Nagai, Hiroki; Wrabel, Anna; Matsuoka, Yoko; Honda, Akira; Sheng, Guojun; Ladher, Raj K

    2015-01-01

    Innate pluripotency of mouse embryos transits from naive to primed state as the inner cell mass differentiates into epiblast. In vitro, their counterparts are embryonic (ESCs) and epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs), respectively. Activation of the FGF signaling cascade results in mouse ESCs differentiating into mEpiSCs, indicative of its requirement in the shift between these states. However, only mouse ESCs correspond to the naive state; ESCs from other mammals and from chick show primed state characteristics. Thus, the significance of the naive state is unclear. In this study, we use zebra finch as a model for comparative ESC studies. The finch blastoderm has mESC-like properties, while chick blastoderm exhibits EpiSC features. In the absence of FGF signaling, finch cells retained expression of pluripotent markers, which were lost in cells from chick or aged finch epiblasts. Our data suggest that the naive state of pluripotency is evolutionarily conserved among amniotes. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.07178.001 PMID:26359635

  19. Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide (CART) in the brain of zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata: Organization, interaction with neuropeptide Y, and response to changes in energy status.

    PubMed

    Singh, Omprakash; Kumar, Santosh; Singh, Uday; Kumar, Vinod; Lechan, Ronald M; Singru, Praful S

    2016-10-15

    Cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART) has emerged as a potent anorectic agent. CART is widely distributed in the brain of mammals, amphibians, and teleosts, but the relevant information in avian brain is not available. In birds, CART inhibits food intake, whereas neuropeptide Y (NPY), a well-known orexigenic peptide, stimulates it. How these neuropeptides interact in the brain to regulate energy balance is not known. We studied the distribution of CART-immunoreactivity in the brain of zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata, its interaction with NPY, and their response to dynamic energy states. CART-immunoreactive fibers were found in the subpallium, hypothalamus, midbrain, and brainstem. Conspicuous CART-immunoreactive cells were observed in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, hypothalamic paraventricular, supraoptic, dorsomedial, infundibular (IN), lateral hypothalamic, Edinger-Westphal, and parabrachial nuclei. Hypothalamic sections of fed, fasted, and refed animals were immunostained with cFos, NPY, and CART antisera. Fasting dramatically increased cFos- and NPY-immunoreactivity in the IN, followed by rapid reduction by 2 hours and restoration to normal fed levels 6-10 hours after refeeding. CART-immunoreactive fibers in IN showed a significant reduction during fasting and upregulation with refeeding. Within the IN, double immunofluorescence revealed that 94 ± 2.1% of NPY-immunoreactive neurons were contacted by CART-immunoreactive fibers and 96 ± 2.8% NPY-immunoreactive neurons expressed cFos during fasting. Compared to controls, superfused hypothalamic slices of fasted birds treated with CART-peptide showed a significant reduction (P < 0.001) in NPY-immunoreactivity in the IN. As in other vertebrates, CART in the brain of T. guttata may perform several functions, and has a particularly important role in the hypothalamic regulation of energy homeostasis. J. Comp. Neurol. 524:3014-3041, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. PMID:27018984

  20. Genomic Landscape of Long Terminal Repeat Retrotransposons (LTR-RTs) and Solo LTRs as Shaped by Ectopic Recombination in Chicken and Zebra Finch.

    PubMed

    Ji, Yanzhu; DeWoody, J Andrew

    2016-06-01

    Transposable elements (TEs) are nearly ubiquitous among eukaryotic genomes, but TE contents vary dramatically among phylogenetic lineages. Several mechanisms have been proposed as drivers of TE dynamics in genomes, including the fixation/loss of a particular TE insertion by selection or drift as well as structural changes in the genome due to mutation (e.g., recombination). In particular, recombination can have a significant and directional effect on the genomic TE landscape. For example, ectopic recombination removes internal regions of long terminal repeat retrotransposons (LTR-RTs) as well as one long terminal repeat (LTR), resulting in a solo LTR. In this study, we focus on the intra-species dynamics of LTR-RTs and solo LTRs in bird genomes. The distribution of LTR-RTs and solo LTRs in birds is intriguing because avian recombination rates vary widely within a given genome. We used published linkage maps and whole genome assemblies to study the relationship between recombination rates and LTR-removal events in the chicken and zebra finch. We hypothesized that regions with low recombination rates would harbor more full-length LTR-RTs (and fewer solo LTRs) than regions with high recombination rates. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the ratio of full-length LTR-RTs and solo LTRs across chromosomes, across non-overlapping megabase windows, and across physical features (i.e., centromeres and telomeres). The chicken data statistically supported the hypothesis that recombination rates are inversely correlated with the ratio of full-length to solo LTRs at both the chromosome level and in 1-Mb non-overlapping windows. We also found that the ratio of full-length to solo LTRs near chicken telomeres was significantly lower than those ratios near centromeres. Our results suggest a potential role of ectopic recombination in shaping the chicken LTR-RT genomic landscape. PMID:27154235

  1. Sex and age differences in brain-derived neurotrophic factor and vimentin in the zebra finch song system: Relationships to newly generated cells.

    PubMed

    Tang, Yu Ping; Wade, Juli

    2016-04-01

    The neural song circuit is enhanced in male compared with female zebra finches due to differential rates of incorporation and survival of cells between the sexes. Two double-label immunohistochemical experiments were conducted to increase the understanding of relationships between newly generated cells (marked with bromodeoxyuridine [BrdU]) and those expressing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and vimentin, a marker for radial glia. The song systems of males and females were investigated at posthatching day 25 during a heightened period of sexual differentiation (following BrdU injections on days 6-10) and in adulthood (following a parallel injection paradigm). In both HVC (proper name) and the robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA), about half of the BrdU-positive cells expressed BDNF across sexes and ages. Less than 10% of the BDNF-positive cells expressed BrdU, but this percentage was greater in juveniles than adults. Across both brain regions, more BDNF-positive cells were detected in males compared with females. In RA, the number of these cells was also greater in juveniles than adults. In HVC, the average cross-sectional area covered by the vimentin labeling was greater in males than females and in juveniles compared with adults. In RA, more vimentin was detected in juveniles than adults, and within adults it was greater in females. In juveniles only, BrdU-positive cells appeared in contact with vimentin-labeled fibers in HVC, RA, and Area X. Collectively, the results are consistent with roles of BDNF- and vimentin-labeled cells influencing sexually differentiated plasticity of the song circuit. PMID:26355496

  2. Interspecific effects of 4A-DNT (4-amino-2,6-dinitrotoluene) and RDX (1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine) in Japanese quail, Northern bobwhite, and Zebra finch.

    PubMed

    Quinn, Michael J; Hanna, Terry L; Shiflett, Alicia A; McFarland, Craig A; Cook, Michelle E; Johnson, Mark S; Gust, Kurt A; Perkins, Edward J

    2013-03-01

    The purpose of this study was to assess the toxicological effects of two munition compounds, 4-amino-2,6-dinitrotoluene (4A-DNT) and 1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX), on three different bird species: two common toxicological model species-the Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and the Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica), and a representative passerine-the Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Bobwhite were exposed to 4A-DNT at 0, 8, 15, 30, 60, or 150 mg/kg body weight (bw) d by oral gavage for seven days; because the high dose of 4A-DNT was lethal to bobwhite, the maximum dose was changed to 100 mg/kg bw d for Japanese quail and finches to ensure tissue could be used for future toxicogenomic work. RDX was similarly administered at 0, 0.5, 1.5, 3, 6, or 12 mg/kg bw d. Blood was drawn prior to euthanasia for blood cellularity and chemistry analyses. Finches were clearly least affected by 4A-DNT as evidenced by a lack of observable effects. Bobwhite appeared to be the most sensitive species to 4A-DNT as observed through changes in blood cellularity and plasma chemistry effects. Bobwhite appeared to be more sensitive to RDX than Japanese Quail due to increased effects on measures of plasma chemistries. Finches exhibited the greatest sensitivity to RDX through increased mortality and seizure activity. This study suggests that sensitivity among species is chemical-specific and provides data that could be used to refine current avian sensitivity models used in ecological risk assessments. PMID:23161369

  3. Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH) in the songbird hippocampus: regional and sex differences in adult zebra finches.

    PubMed

    McGuire, Nicolette; Ferris, Jennifer K; Arckens, Lutgarde; Bentley, George E; Soma, Kiran K

    2013-08-01

    Hypothalamic gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and gonadotropin inhibitory hormone (GnIH) are vital to reproduction in all vertebrates. These neuropeptides are also present outside of the hypothalamus, but the roles of extra-hypothalamic GnRH and GnIH remain enigmatic and widely underappreciated. We used immunohistochemistry and PCR to examine whether multiple forms of GnRH (chicken GnRH-I (GnRH1), chicken GnRH-II (GnRH2) and lamprey GnRH-III (GnRH4)) and GnIH are present in the hippocampus (Hp) of adult zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Using immunohistochemistry, we provide evidence that GnRH1, GnRH2 and GnRH4 are present in hippocampal cell bodies and/or fibers and that GnIH is present in hippocampal fibers only. There are regional differences in hippocampal GnRH immunoreactivity, and these vary across the different forms of GnRH. There are also sex differences in hippocampal GnRH immunoreactivity, with generally more GnRH1 and GnRH2 in the female Hp. In addition, we used PCR to examine the presence of GnRH1 mRNA and GnIH mRNA in micropunches of Hp. PCR and subsequent product sequencing demonstrated the presence of GnRH1 mRNA and the absence of GnIH mRNA in the Hp, consistent with the pattern of immunohistochemical results. To our knowledge, this is the first study in any species to systematically examine multiple forms of GnRH in the Hp or to quantify sex or regional differences in hippocampal GnRH. Moreover, this is the first demonstration of GnIH in the avian Hp. These data shed light on an important issue: the sites of action and possible functions of GnRH and GnIH outside of the HPG axis. PMID:23727031

  4. New insights into the mechanism of lens development using zebra fish.

    PubMed

    Greiling, Teri M S; Clark, John I

    2012-01-01

    On the basis of recent advances in molecular biology, genetics, and live-embryo imaging, direct comparisons between zebra fish and human lens development are being made. The zebra fish has numerous experimental advantages for investigation of fundamental biomedical problems that are often best studied in the lens. The physical characteristics of visible light can account for the highly coordinated cell differentiation during formation of a beautifully transparent, refractile, symmetric optical element, the biological lens. The accessibility of the zebra fish lens for direct investigation during rapid development will result in new knowledge about basic functional mechanisms of epithelia-mesenchymal transitions, cell fate, cell-matrix interactions, cytoskeletal interactions, cytoplasmic crowding, membrane transport, cell adhesion, cell signaling, and metabolic specialization. The lens is well known as a model for characterization of cell and molecular aging. We review the recent advances in understanding vertebrate lens development conducted with zebra fish. PMID:22559937

  5. Development of a Bioaerosol single particle detector (BIO IN) for the Fast Ice Nucleus CHamber FINCH

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bundke, U.; Reimann, B.; Nillius, B.; Jaenicke, R.; Bingemer, H.

    2010-02-01

    In this work we present the setup and first tests of our new BIO IN detector. This detector was constructed to classify atmospheric ice nuclei (IN) for their biological content. It is designed to be coupled to the Fast Ice Nucleus CHamber FINCH. If one particle acts as an ice nucleus, it will be at least partly covered with ice at the end of the development section of the FINCH chamber. The device combines an auto-fluorescence detector and a circular depolarization detector for simultaneous detection of biological material and discrimination between water droplets, ice crystals and non activated large aerosol particles. The excitation of biological material with UV light and analysis of auto-fluorescence is a common principle used for flow cytometry, fluorescence microscopy, spectroscopy and imaging. The detection of auto-fluorescence of airborne single particles demands some more experimental effort. However, expensive commercial sensors are available for special purposes, e.g. size distribution measurements. But these sensors will not fit the specifications needed for the FINCH IN counter (e.g. high sample flow of up 10 LPM). The newly developed -low cost- BIO IN sensor uses a single high-power UV LED for the electronic excitation instead of much more expensive UV lasers. Other key advantages of the new sensor are the low weight, compact size, and the little effect on the aerosol sample, which allows it to be coupled with other instruments for further analysis. The instrument will be flown on one of the first missions of the new German research aircraft "HALO" (High Altitude and LOng range).

  6. Development of a molecular diagnostic system to discriminate Dreissena polymorpha (zebra mussel) and Dreissena bugensis (quagga mussel)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Hoy, M.S.; Kelly, K.; Rodriguez, R.J.

    2010-01-01

    A 3-primer PCR system was developed to discriminate invasive zebra (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga (Dreissena bugensis) mussel. The system is based on: 1) universal primers that amplifies a region of the nuclear 28s rDNA gene from both species and 2) a species-specific primer complementary to either zebra or quagga mussel. The species-specific primers bind to sequences between the binding sites for the universal primers resulting in the amplification of two products from the target species and one product from the nontarget species. Therefore, nontarget products are positive amplification controls. The 3-primer system accurately discriminated zebra and quagga mussels from seven geographically distinct populations.

  7. Addressing Potential Cumulative Impacts of Development on Threatened Species: The Case of the Endangered Black-Throated Finch.

    PubMed

    Vanderduys, Eric Peter; Reside, April E; Grice, Anthony; Rechetelo, Juliana

    2016-01-01

    Where threatened biodiversity is adversely affected by development, policies often state that "no net loss" should be the goal and biodiversity offsetting is one mechanism available to achieve this. However, developments are often approved on an ad hoc basis and cumulative impacts are not sufficiently examined. We demonstrate the potential for serious threat to an endangered subspecies when multiple developments are planned. We modelled the distribution of the black-throated finch (Poephila cincta cincta) using bioclimatic data and Queensland's Regional Ecosystem classification. We overlaid granted, extant extractive and exploratory mining tenures within the known and modelled ranges of black-throated finches to examine the level of incipient threat to this subspecies in central Queensland, Australia. Our models indicate that more than half of the remaining P. cincta cincta habitat is currently under extractive or exploratory tenure. Therefore, insufficient habitat exists to offset all potential development so "no net loss" is not possible. This has implications for future conservation of this and similarly distributed species and for resource development planning, especially the use of legislated offsets for biodiversity protection. PMID:26934622

  8. Addressing Potential Cumulative Impacts of Development on Threatened Species: The Case of the Endangered Black-Throated Finch

    PubMed Central

    Vanderduys, Eric Peter; Reside, April E.; Grice, Anthony; Rechetelo, Juliana

    2016-01-01

    Where threatened biodiversity is adversely affected by development, policies often state that "no net loss" should be the goal and biodiversity offsetting is one mechanism available to achieve this. However, developments are often approved on an ad hoc basis and cumulative impacts are not sufficiently examined. We demonstrate the potential for serious threat to an endangered subspecies when multiple developments are planned. We modelled the distribution of the black-throated finch (Poephila cincta cincta) using bioclimatic data and Queensland's Regional Ecosystem classification. We overlaid granted, extant extractive and exploratory mining tenures within the known and modelled ranges of black-throated finches to examine the level of incipient threat to this subspecies in central Queensland, Australia. Our models indicate that more than half of the remaining P. cincta cincta habitat is currently under extractive or exploratory tenure. Therefore, insufficient habitat exists to offset all potential development so "no net loss" is not possible. This has implications for future conservation of this and similarly distributed species and for resource development planning, especially the use of legislated offsets for biodiversity protection. PMID:26934622

  9. Development of a molecular diagnostic system to discriminate Dreissena polymorpha (zebra mussel) and Dreissena bugensis (quagga mussel).

    PubMed

    Hoy, Marshal S; Kelly, Kevin; Rodriguez, Rusty J

    2010-01-01

    A 3-primer PCR system was developed to discriminate invasive zebra (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga (Dreissena bugensis) mussel. The system is based on: 1) universal primers that amplifies a region of the nuclear 28s rDNA gene from both species and 2) a species-specific primer complementary to either zebra or quagga mussel. The species-specific primers bind to sequences between the binding sites for the universal primers resulting in the amplification of two products from the target species and one product from the nontarget species. Therefore, nontarget products are positive amplification controls. The 3-primer system accurately discriminated zebra and quagga mussels from seven geographically distinct populations. PMID:21565008

  10. Development of the Zebra load region for increased capability plasma diagnostics and improved Leopard laser access

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Astanovitskiy, Alexey; Presura, R.; Ivanov, V. V.; Haboub, A.; Plachaty, C.; Kindel, J. M.

    2008-11-01

    A new geometry for the load area in the Zebra (1MA pulse generator) is developed. It will form the basis for future experiments requiring Leopard (1057nm, 50TW laser) to Zebra coupling and give extended capability to z-pinch diagnostics. This required the development of a new current return, which allows laser access and installation of the OD 4'' parabolic mirror for the x-ray radiography, isochoric heating and magnetized plasma experiments, and accommodates wire-array z-pinch loads, to which the laser may then be coupled. In addition, this configuration allows diagnostics access close to the plasma, leading to a significant increase of the spatial resolution for imaging of z-pinches, as well as the photon flux in imaging and spectroscopy of laser produced plasmas. These diagnostics will allow coupling of the Leopard beam for x-ray laser probing of the pinch plasma and we will test point-projection x-ray backlighting of the pinch plasma.

  11. Development of IL-60 system in potato reduces zebra chip symptoms

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Preliminary research indicated a reduction of Zebra chip symptoms when introducing a bacterial-suppressing protein in potatoes. The causal agent of Zebra Chip (ZC) was recently identified as a species of the plant-infecting bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter, which is transmitted by the potato psylli...

  12. The fast Ice Nucleus chamber FINCH

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bundke, U.; Nillius, B.; Jaenicke, R.; Wetter, T.; Klein, H.; Bingemer, H.

    2008-11-01

    We present first results of our new developed Ice Nucleus (IN) counter FINCH from the sixth Cloud and Aerosol Characterization Experiment (CLACE 6) campaign at Jungfraujoch station, 3571 m asl. Measurements were made at the total and the ICE CVI inlet. Laboratory measurements of ice onset temperatures by FINCH are compared to those of the static diffusion chamber FRIDGE (FRankfurt Ice Deposition Freezing Experiment). Within the errors of both new instruments the results compare well to published data.

  13. Behavioral relevance of species-specific vasotocin anatomy in gregarious finches

    PubMed Central

    Kelly, Aubrey M.; Goodson, James L.

    2013-01-01

    Despite substantial species differences in the vasotocin/vasopressin (VT/VP) circuitry of the medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTm) and lateral septum (LS; a primary projection target of BSTm VT/VP cells), functional consequences of this variation are poorly known. Previous experiments in the highly gregarious zebra finch (Estrildidae: Taeniopygia guttata) demonstrate that BSTm VT neurons promote gregariousness in a male-specific manner and reduce anxiety in both sexes. However, in contrast to the zebra finch, the less gregarious Angolan blue waxbill (Estrildidae: Uraeginthus angolensis) exhibits fewer VT-immunoreactive cells in the BSTm as well as differences in receptor distribution across the LS subnuclei, suggesting that knockdown of VT production in the BSTm would produce behavioral effects in Angolan blue waxbills that are distinct from zebra finches. Thus, we here quantified social contact, gregariousness (i.e., preference for the larger of two groups), and anxiety-like behavior following bilateral antisense knockdown of VT production in the BSTm of male and female Angolan blue waxbills. We find that BSTm VT neurons promote social contact, but not gregariousness (as in male zebra finches), and that antisense effects on social contact are significantly stronger in male waxbills than in females. Knockdown of BSTm VT production has no effect on anxiety-like behavior. These data provide novel evidence that species differences in the VT/VP circuitry arising in the BSTm are accompanied by species-specific effects on affiliation behaviors. PMID:24381536

  14. Examining the role of tuber biochemistry in the development of zebra chip in stored potato tubers

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Zebra chip disease (ZC), associated with infection by the bacterium ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso), is an emerging problem for potato growers in the United States, Mexico, and New Zealand. Although potato tubers exhibiting ZC symptoms will be rejected by processors, it remains possible...

  15. Zebra mussel life history

    SciTech Connect

    Ackerman, J.D.

    1995-06-01

    The success of introduced zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas) and Dreissena bugensis Andrusova) can be related in large parttot a life history that is unlike that of the indigenous freshwater fauna and yet is conserved with marine bivalves. Following external fertilization and embryological development, there is a brief trochophore stage. With the development of a velum and the secretion of a D-shaped larval shell, the larva becomes a D-shaped veliger, which is the first recognizable planktonic larva. Later, the secretion of a second larval shell leads to the last obligate free-swimming veliger stage known as the veliconcha. The last larval stage known as the pediveliger, however, can both swim using its velum or crawl using its fully-functional foot. Pediveligers actively select substrates on which they {open_quotes}settle{close_quotes} by secreting byssal threads and undergo metamorphosis to become plantigrade mussels. The secretion of the adult shell and concomitant changes in growth axis leads to the heteromyariant or mussel-like shape, which is convergent with marine mussels. Like a number of other bivalves, zebra mussels produce byssal threads as adults, but these attachments may be broken enabling their translocation to new areas. The recognition and examination of these life history traits will lead to a better understanding of zebra mussel biology.

  16. Development of a bioaerosol single particle detector (BIO IN) for the fast ice nucleus chamber FINCH

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bundke, U.; Reimann, B.; Nillius, B.; Jaenicke, R.; Bingemer, H.

    2009-10-01

    In this work we present the setup and first tests of our new BIO IN detector. This detector is designed to classify atmospheric ice nuclei (IN) for their biological content. Biological material is identified via its auto-fluorescence (intrinsic fluorescence) after irradiation with UV radiation. Ice nuclei are key substances for precipitation development via the Bergeron-Findeisen process. The level of scientific knowledge regarding origin and climatology (temporal and spatial distribution) of IN is very low. Some biological material is known to be active as IN even at relatively high temperatures of up to -2°C (e.g. pseudomonas syringae bacteria). These biological IN could have a strong influence on the formation of clouds and precipitation. We have designed the new BIO IN sensor to analyze the abundance of IN of biological origin. The instrument will be flown on one of the first missions of the new German research aircraft ''HALO'' (High Altitude and LOng Range).

  17. Androgen receptor gene polymorphism in zebra species

    PubMed Central

    Ito, Hideyuki; Langenhorst, Tanya; Ogden, Rob; Inoue-Murayama, Miho

    2015-01-01

    Androgen receptor genes (AR) have been found to have associations with reproductive development, behavioral traits, and disorders in humans. However, the influence of similar genetic effects on the behavior of other animals is scarce. We examined the loci AR glutamine repeat (ARQ) in 44 Grevy's zebras, 23 plains zebras, and three mountain zebras, and compared them with those of domesticated horses. We observed polymorphism among zebra species and between zebra and horse. As androgens such as testosterone influence aggressiveness, AR polymorphism among equid species may be associated with differences in levels of aggression and tameness. Our findings indicate that it would be useful to conduct further studies focusing on the potential association between AR and personality traits, and to understand domestication of equid species. PMID:26236645

  18. Intra-ejaculate sperm selection in female zebra finches

    PubMed Central

    Bennison, C.; Birkhead, T. R.

    2016-01-01

    Among internal fertilizers, typically fewer than 1% sperm survive the journey through the oviduct. Several studies suggest that the sperm reaching the ovum—the ‘fertilizing set’—comprise a non-random sub-population, but the characteristics of this group remain unclear. We tested whether oviductal selection in birds results in a morphologically distinct subset of sperm, by exploiting the fact that the fertilizing set are trapped by the perivitelline layer of the ovum. We show that these sperm have remarkably low morphological variation, as well as smaller head size and greater tail length, compared with those inseminated. Our study shows that the morphological composition of sperm—rather than length alone—influences success in reaching the ovum. PMID:27277953

  19. Intra-ejaculate sperm selection in female zebra finches.

    PubMed

    Hemmings, N; Bennison, C; Birkhead, T R

    2016-06-01

    Among internal fertilizers, typically fewer than 1% sperm survive the journey through the oviduct. Several studies suggest that the sperm reaching the ovum-the 'fertilizing set'-comprise a non-random sub-population, but the characteristics of this group remain unclear. We tested whether oviductal selection in birds results in a morphologically distinct subset of sperm, by exploiting the fact that the fertilizing set are trapped by the perivitelline layer of the ovum. We show that these sperm have remarkably low morphological variation, as well as smaller head size and greater tail length, compared with those inseminated. Our study shows that the morphological composition of sperm-rather than length alone-influences success in reaching the ovum. PMID:27277953

  20. Continuous Time Representations of Song in Zebra Finches.

    PubMed

    Troyer, Todd W

    2016-05-18

    Neurons in the songbird nucleus HVC produce premotor bursts time locked to song with millisecond precision. In this issue of Neuron, Lynch et al. (2016) and Picardo et al. (2016) provide convincing evidence that the population of these bursts contain a continuous representation of time throughout song. PMID:27196971

  1. ORAL ESTROGEN MASCULINIZES FEMALE ZEBRA FINCH SONG SYSTEM. (R825294)

    EPA Science Inventory

    The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Concl...

  2. Developing accurate survey methods for estimating population sizes and trends of the critically endangered Nihoa Millerbird and Nihoa Finch.

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Gorresen, P. Marcos; Camp, Richard J.; Brinck, Kevin W.; Farmer, Chris

    2012-01-01

    Point-transect surveys indicated that millerbirds were more abundant than shown by the striptransect method, and were estimated at 802 birds in 2010 (95%CI = 652 – 964) and 704 birds in 2011 (95%CI = 579 – 837). Point-transect surveys yielded population estimates with improved precision which will permit trends to be detected in shorter time periods and with greater statistical power than is available from strip-transect survey methods. Mean finch population estimates and associated uncertainty were not markedly different among the three survey methods, but the performance of models used to estimate density and population size are expected to improve as the data from additional surveys are incorporated. Using the pointtransect survey, the mean finch population size was estimated at 2,917 birds in 2010 (95%CI = 2,037 – 3,965) and 2,461 birds in 2011 (95%CI = 1,682 – 3,348). Preliminary testing of the line-transect method in 2011 showed that it would not generate sufficient detections to effectively model bird density, and consequently, relatively precise population size estimates. Both species were fairly evenly distributed across Nihoa and appear to occur in all or nearly all available habitat. The time expended and area traversed by observers was similar among survey methods; however, point-transect surveys do not require that observers walk a straight transect line, thereby allowing them to avoid culturally or biologically sensitive areas and minimize the adverse effects of recurrent travel to any particular area. In general, pointtransect surveys detect more birds than strip-survey methods, thereby improving precision and resulting population size and trend estimation. The method is also better suited for the steep and uneven terrain of Nihoa

  3. Insights into the evolution of Darwin’s finches from comparative analysis of the Geospiza magnirostris genome sequence

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Background A classical example of repeated speciation coupled with ecological diversification is the evolution of 14 closely related species of Darwin’s (Galápagos) finches (Thraupidae, Passeriformes). Their adaptive radiation in the Galápagos archipelago took place in the last 2–3 million years and some of the molecular mechanisms that led to their diversification are now being elucidated. Here we report evolutionary analyses of genome of the large ground finch, Geospiza magnirostris. Results 13,291 protein-coding genes were predicted from a 991.0 Mb G. magnirostris genome assembly. We then defined gene orthology relationships and constructed whole genome alignments between the G. magnirostris and other vertebrate genomes. We estimate that 15% of genomic sequence is functionally constrained between G. magnirostris and zebra finch. Genic evolutionary rate comparisons indicate that similar selective pressures acted along the G. magnirostris and zebra finch lineages suggesting that historical effective population size values have been similar in both lineages. 21 otherwise highly conserved genes were identified that each show evidence for positive selection on amino acid changes in the Darwin's finch lineage. Two of these genes (Igf2r and Pou1f1) have been implicated in beak morphology changes in Darwin’s finches. Five of 47 genes showing evidence of positive selection in early passerine evolution have cilia related functions, and may be examples of adaptively evolving reproductive proteins. Conclusions These results provide insights into past evolutionary processes that have shaped G. magnirostris genes and its genome, and provide the necessary foundation upon which to build population genomics resources that will shed light on more contemporaneous adaptive and non-adaptive processes that have contributed to the evolution of the Darwin’s finches. PMID:23402223

  4. Linda Finch speaks to children during World Flight in New Orleans, La.

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1997-01-01

    Linda Finch, who re-created the flight of Amelia Earhardt's flight around the world 60 years ago, landed at New Orleans Lakefront Airport to speak to groups of inner-city school children during World Flight 1997. Stennis Space Center's Educator Resource Center played a role in the event by providing SSC-developed Geomap software to aid students in tracking Finch's flight.

  5. Conservation and expression of IQ-domain-containing calpacitin gene products (Neuromodulin/GAP-43, Neurogranin/RC3) in the adult and developing oscine song control system

    PubMed Central

    Clayton, David F.; George, Julia M.; Mello, Claudio V.; Siepka, Sandra M.

    2009-01-01

    Songbirds are appreciated for the insights they provide into regulated neural plasticity. Here we describe the comparative analysis and brain expression of two gene sequences encoding probable regulators of synaptic plasticity in songbirds: Neuromodulin (GAP-43) and Neurogranin (RC3). Both are members of the calpacitin family and share a distinctive conserved core domain that mediates interactions between calcium, calmodulin and protein kinase C signaling pathways. Comparative sequence analysis is consistent with known phylogenetic relationships, with songbirds most closely related to chicken and progressively more distant from mammals and fish. The C-terminus of Neurogranin is different in birds and mammals, and antibodies to the protein reveal high expression in adult zebra finches in cerebellar Purkinje cells, which has not been observed in other species. RNAs for both proteins are generally abundant in the telencephalon yet markedly reduced in certain nuclei of the song control system in adult canaries and zebra finches: Neuromodulin RNA is very low in RA and HVC (relative to the surrounding pallial areas), whereas Neurogranin RNA is conspicuously low in Area X (relative to surrounding striatum). In both cases, this selective down-regulation develops in the zebra finch during the juvenile song learning period, 25–45 days after hatching. These results suggest molecular parallels to the robust stability of the adult avian song control circuit. PMID:19023859

  6. Environmental DNA mapping of Zebra Mussel populations

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Amberg, Jon; Merkes, Christopher

    2016-01-01

    Environmental DNA (eDNA) has become a popular tool for detecting aquatic invasive species, but advancements have made it possible to potentially answer other questions like reproduction, movement, and abundance of the targeted organism. In this study we developed a Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) eDNA protocol. We then determined if this assay could be used to help determine Zebra Mussel biomass in a lake with a well-established population of Zebra Mussels and a lake with an emerging population of mussels. Our eDNA assay detected DNA of Zebra Mussels but not DNA from more than 20 other species of fish and mussels, many commonly found in Minnesota waters. Our assay did not predict biomass. We did find that DNA from Zebra Mussels accumulated in softer substrates in both lakes, even though the mussels were predominately on the harder substrates. Therefore, we concluded that eDNA may be useful to detect the presence of Zebra Mussels in these lakes but our assay/approach could not predict biomass.

  7. Evolution of Darwin's finches and their beaks revealed by genome sequencing.

    PubMed

    Lamichhaney, Sangeet; Berglund, Jonas; Almén, Markus Sällman; Maqbool, Khurram; Grabherr, Manfred; Martinez-Barrio, Alvaro; Promerová, Marta; Rubin, Carl-Johan; Wang, Chao; Zamani, Neda; Grant, B Rosemary; Grant, Peter R; Webster, Matthew T; Andersson, Leif

    2015-02-19

    Darwin's finches, inhabiting the Galápagos archipelago and Cocos Island, constitute an iconic model for studies of speciation and adaptive evolution. Here we report the results of whole-genome re-sequencing of 120 individuals representing all of the Darwin's finch species and two close relatives. Phylogenetic analysis reveals important discrepancies with the phenotype-based taxonomy. We find extensive evidence for interspecific gene flow throughout the radiation. Hybridization has given rise to species of mixed ancestry. A 240 kilobase haplotype encompassing the ALX1 gene that encodes a transcription factor affecting craniofacial development is strongly associated with beak shape diversity across Darwin's finch species as well as within the medium ground finch (Geospiza fortis), a species that has undergone rapid evolution of beak shape in response to environmental changes. The ALX1 haplotype has contributed to diversification of beak shapes among the Darwin's finches and, thereby, to an expanded utilization of food resources. PMID:25686609

  8. The effects of Zebra Chip disease development and bacterial titer on biochemical properties in relation to the time of infection

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Potato tuber biochemical responses to ‘Candidatus’ Liberibacter solanacearum (Lso), the causal agent of Zebra chip disease, were evaluated both within infected tubers and across different infection dates. Tuber biochemistry also was related to symptom severity and bacterial titer. Symptom severity w...

  9. Zebra chip progression: from inoculation of potato plants with liberibacter to development of disease symptoms in tubers

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Zebra chip (ZC), a new and serious disease of potatoes, has caused millions of dollars in losses to the potato industry in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and New Zealand. The disease has been associated with the bacterium “Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum” transmitted to potato by t...

  10. Effects of temperature on 'Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum' and zebra chip potato disease symptom development

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Temperature has been shown to have significant impact on development of liberibacter species associated with citrus Huanglongbing disease. “Candidatus Liberibacter africanus” and “Ca. L. americanus” are both heat sensitive, whereas “Ca. L. asiaticus” is heat tolerant. The recently described “Ca. L. ...

  11. ZebRA: An overview of retinoic acid signaling during zebrafish development.

    PubMed

    Samarut, Eric; Fraher, Daniel; Laudet, Vincent; Gibert, Yann

    2015-02-01

    Retinoic acid (RA), the main active vitamin A derivative, is crucial for embryo development, regulating cellular processes, embryo patterning and organogenesis. Many studies performed in mammalian or avian models have successfully undertaken the investigation of the role played by RA during embryogenesis. Since the early 1980s, the zebrafish (Danio rerio) has emerged as a powerful developmental model to study the in vivo role of RA during embryogenesis. Unlike mammalian models, zebrafish embryogenesis is external, not only allowing the observation of the translucent embryo from the earliest steps but also providing an easily accessible system for pharmacological treatment or genetic approaches. Therefore, zebrafish research largely participates in deciphering the role of RA during development. This review aims at illustrating different concepts of RA signaling based on the research performed on zebrafish. Indeed, RA action relies on a multitude of cross-talk with other signaling pathways and requires a coordinated, dynamic and fine-regulation of its level and activity in both temporal and spatial dimensions. This review also highlights major advances that have been discovered using zebrafish such as the observation of the RA gradient in vivo for the first time, the effects of RA signaling in brain patterning, its role in establishing left-right asymmetry and its effects on the development of a variety of organs and tissues including the heart, blood, bone and fat. This review demonstrates that the zebrafish is a convenient and powerful model to study retinoic acid signaling during vertebrate embryogenesis. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Nuclear receptors in animal development. PMID:24928143

  12. The tale of the finch: adaptive radiation and behavioural flexibility

    PubMed Central

    Tebbich, Sabine; Sterelny, Kim; Teschke, Irmgard

    2010-01-01

    Darwin's finches are a classic example of adaptive radiation. The ecological diversity of the Galápagos in part explains that radiation, but the fact that other founder species did not radiate suggests that other factors are also important. One hypothesis attempting to identify the extra factor is the flexible stem hypothesis, connecting individual adaptability to species richness. According to this hypothesis, the ancestral finches were flexible and therefore able to adapt to the new and harsh environment they encountered by exploiting new food types and developing new foraging techniques. Phenotypic variation was initially mediated by learning, but genetic accommodation entrenched differences and supplemented them with morphological adaptations. This process subsequently led to diversification and speciation of the Darwin's finches. Their current behaviour is consistent with this hypothesis as these birds use unusual resources by extraordinary means. In this paper, we identify cognitive capacities on which flexibility and innovation depend. The flexible stem hypothesis predicts that we will find high levels of these capacities in all species of Darwin's finches (not just those using innovative techniques). Here, we test that prediction, and find that while most of our data are in line with the flexible stem hypothesis, some are in tension with it. PMID:20194172

  13. PCB126 Exposure Disrupts ZebraFish Ventricular and Branchial but Not Early Neural Crest Development

    PubMed Central

    Grimes, Adrian C.; Erwin, Kyle N.; Stadt, Harriett A.; Hunter, Ginger L.; Gefroh, Holly A.; Tsai, Huai-Jen; Kirby, Margaret L.

    2008-01-01

    We have used zebrafish and 3,3′,4,4′,5-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB126) to investigate the developmental toxicity of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that exert their effects through the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). We found that cardiac and neural crest (NC)–derived jaw and branchial cartilages are specifically targeted early in development. The suite of malformations, which ultimately leads to circulatory failure, includes a severely dysmorphic heart with a reduced bulbus arteriosus and abnormal atrioventricular and outflow valve formation. Early NC migration and patterning of the jaw and branchial cartilages was normal. However, the jaw and branchial cartilages failed to grow to normal size. In the heart, the ventricular myocardium showed a reduction in cell number and size. The heart and jaw/branchial phenotype could be rescued by pifithrin-α, a blocker of p53. However, the function of pifithrin-α in this model may act as a competitive inhibitor of PCB at the AHR and is likely independent of p53. Morpholinos against p53 did not rescue the phenotype, nor were zebrafish with a mutant p53-null allele resistant to PCB126 toxicity. Morpholino knockdown of cardiac troponin T, which blocks the onset of cardiac function, prevented the PCB126-induced cardiac dysmorphogenesis but not the jaw/branchial phenotype. The cardiovascular characteristics appear to be similar to hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) and introduce the potential of zebrafish as a model to study this environmentally induced cardiovascular malformation. HLHS is a severe congenital cardiovascular malformation that has previously been linked to industrial releases of dioxins and PCBs. PMID:18660518

  14. Several synthetic progestins disrupt the glial cell specific-brain aromatase expression in developing zebra fish.

    PubMed

    Cano-Nicolau, Joel; Garoche, Clémentine; Hinfray, Nathalie; Pellegrini, Elisabeth; Boujrad, Noureddine; Pakdel, Farzad; Kah, Olivier; Brion, François

    2016-08-15

    The effects of some progestins on fish reproduction have been recently reported revealing the hazard of this class of steroidal pharmaceuticals. However, their effects at the central nervous system level have been poorly studied until now. Notwithstanding, progesterone, although still widely considered primarily a sex hormone, is an important agent affecting many central nervous system functions. Herein, we investigated the effects of a large set of synthetic ligands of the nuclear progesterone receptor on the glial-specific expression of the zebrafish brain aromatase (cyp19a1b) using zebrafish mechanism-based assays. Progesterone and 24 progestins were first screened on transgenic cyp19a1b-GFP zebrafish embryos. We showed that progesterone, dydrogesterone, drospirenone and all the progesterone-derived progestins had no effect on GFP expression. Conversely, all progestins derived from 19-nortesterone induced GFP in a concentration-dependent manner with EC50 ranging from the low nM range to hundreds nM. The 19-nortestosterone derived progestins levonorgestrel (LNG) and norethindrone (NET) were further tested in a radial glial cell context using U251-MG cells co-transfected with zebrafish ER subtypes (zfERα, zfERβ1 or zfERβ2) and cyp19a1b promoter linked to luciferase. Progesterone had no effect on luciferase activity while NET and LNG induced luciferase activity that was blocked by ICI 182,780. Zebrafish-ERs competition assays showed that NET and LNG were unable to bind to ERs, suggesting that the effects of these compounds on cyp19a1b require metabolic activation prior to elicit estrogenic activity. Overall, we demonstrate that 19-nortestosterone derived progestins elicit estrogenic activity by inducing cyp19a1b expression in radial glial cells. Given the crucial role of radial glial cells and neuro-estrogens in early development of brain, the consequences of exposure of fish to these compounds require further investigation. PMID:27245768

  15. Functional interactions of dopamine cell groups reflect personality, sex, and social context in highly social finches.

    PubMed

    Kelly, Aubrey M; Goodson, James L

    2015-03-01

    Dopamine (DA) is well known for its involvement in novelty-seeking, learning, and goal-oriented behaviors such as social behavior. However, little is known about how DA modulates social processes differentially in relation to sex and behavioral phenotype (e.g., personality). Importantly, the major DA cell groups (A8-A15) are conserved across all amniote vertebrates, and thus broadly relevant insights may be obtained through investigations of avian species such as zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), which express a human-like social organization based on biparental nuclear families that are embedded within larger social groups. We here build upon a previous study that quantified multidimensional personality structures in male and female zebra finches using principal components analysis (PCA) of extensive behavioral measures in social and nonsocial contexts. These complex dimensions of behavioral phenotype can be characterized as Social competence/dominance, Gregariousness, and Anxiety. Here we analyze Fos protein expression in DA neuronal populations in response to social novelty and demonstrate that the Fos content of multiple dopamine cell groups is significantly predicted by sex, personality, social context, and their interactions. In order to further investigate coordinated neuromodulation of behavior across multiple DA cell groups, we also conducted a PCA of neural variables (DA cell numbers and their phasic Fos responses) and show that behavioral PCs are associated with unique suites of neural PCs. These findings demonstrate that personality and sex are reflected in DA neuron activity and coordinated patterns of neuromodulation arising from multiple DA cell groups. PMID:25496780

  16. Zebra mussel mitigation; overview

    SciTech Connect

    Claudi, R.

    1995-06-01

    Zebra mussels cause a number of problems to industrial raw water users as well as having serious impact on civil structures exposed to mussel infested waters. The largest volume of water (up to 90% of the total) drawn into most industrial and power generating plants, is for cooling and heat transfer. The rest of the volume is used for other plant processes, such as make-up in steam systems, and service systems used for cleaning, air conditions, fire protection and human consumption. All raw water systems are vulnerable to zebra mussel infestation to greater or lesser degree. To-date, many different chemical and non-chemical techniques for zebra mussel control have been investigated. However, the treatment of choice for most facilities is based on chemical control. This has been the common practice in Europe and so far it has been the case in North America. This is likely to change as the environmental constraints on release of chemicals into natural water bodies continue to increase. This paper deals with the different steps raw water users should take when deciding on a mitigation strategy, the mitigation measures available to-date and those that have been proposed for the control of zebra mussels in industrial systems.

  17. Zebra mussel monitoring

    SciTech Connect

    Hennagir, T.

    1994-01-01

    In less than a decade, zebra mussels have become the latest environmental scourge to plague the North American power industry. Infestations in the Great Lakes region have already reached natural disaster proportions. The invasion shows little sign of subsiding; Michigan's inland waters are the next most likely threatened area. In the southern United States, the mussles' migration has extended about 50 miles deeper than experts had originally predicted. By the year 2000, zebra mussel monitoring and control efforts will cost business and industry $5 billion, according to the federal Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990. Estimates of more than $1 million to control mussel fouling are projected for the Great Lakes area alone. While small independent hydropower stations are not as susceptible to zebra mussles as coal or nuclear facilities, there is cause for concern. Infestations can quickly foul hydropower plant components, hampering equipment operation and reducing facility efficiency. In extreme cases, leaving the mussels unchecked can result in stoplog gate flow blockage or false water level gauge readings. Advance prevention is often an effective first-line of defense against this troublesome, rapidly spreading and extremely prolific mollusk. Mussel monitoring efforts should begin a year in advance of when zebra mussels are expected to appear in a given location. Hydropower facility components that come into contact or rely exclusively on raw water are at greatest risk, as are other external components such as embayment walls, screens, trashracks and fish ladders.

  18. Update on zebra chip variety screening trial

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Sustainable management of zebra chip (ZC) disease of potato requires the identification and development of tolerant or resistant potato varieties. For five years (2010-2014), over 280 potato varieties and advanced breeding lines were screened for ZC under controlled field cage conditions, by infecti...

  19. [Application of zebra fishes in studies on traditional Chinese medicines].

    PubMed

    Tian, Li-li; Zhu, Guo-fu

    2015-03-01

    The zebra fish model, as an integral animal model, features small volume, high throughput, low cost, short cycle and reliable experimental results, thus has been widely used in medical studies. Traditional Chinese medicines (TCM) constitute a complex system, their active ingredients and action mechanisms are among study hotspots in during the development of modern TCMs. Along with the constant improvement of advanced technologies and methods, zebra fishes have been increasingly applied in studies on TCMs and shown advantages in active screening, and toxicity and metabolism studies. In this paper, TCM studies by using zebra fishes in recent years are summarized to provide new ideas and methods for basic studies on TCMs. PMID:26087540

  20. Sisyphean evolution in Darwin's finches.

    PubMed

    McKay, Bailey D; Zink, Robert M

    2014-07-01

    The trajectory of speciation involves geographic isolation of ancestral populations followed by divergence by natural selection, genetic drift or sexual selection. Once started, the process may experience fits and starts, as sometimes diverging populations intermittently reconnect. In theory populations might cycle between stages of differentiation and never attain species status, a process we refer to as Sisyphean evolution. We argue that the six putative ground finch species (genus Geospiza) of the Galápagos Islands represent a dramatic example of Sisyphean evolution that has been confused with the standard model of speciation. The dynamic environment of the Galápagos, closely spaced islands, and frequent dispersal and introgression have prevented the completion of the speciation process. We suggest that morphological clusters represent locally adapted ecomorphs, which might mimic, and have been confused with, species, but these ecomorphs do not form separate gene pools and are ephemeral in space and time. Thus the pattern of morphological, behavioural and genetic variation supports recognition of a single species of Geospiza, which we suggest should be recognized as Darwin's ground finch (Geospiza magnirostris). We argue that instead of providing an icon of insular speciation and adaptive radiation, which is featured in nearly every textbook on evolutionary biology, Darwin's ground finch represents a potentially more interesting phenomenon, one of transient morphs trapped in an unpredictable cycle of Sisyphean evolution. Instead of revealing details of the origin of species, the mechanisms underlying the transient occurrence of ecomorphs provide one of the best illustrations of the antagonistic effects of natural selection and introgression. PMID:25040800

  1. Finch: A System for Evolving Java (Bytecode)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Orlov, Michael; Sipper, Moshe

    The established approach in genetic programming (GP) involves the definition of functions and terminals appropriate to the problem at hand, after which evolution of expressions using these definitions takes place. We have recently developed a system, dubbed FINCH (Fertile Darwinian Bytecode Harvester), to evolutionarily improve actual, extant software, which was not intentionally written for the purpose of serving as a GP representation in particular, nor for evolution in general. This is in contrast to existing work that uses restricted subsets of the Java bytecode instruction set as a representation language for individuals in genetic programming. The ability to evolve Java programs will hopefully lead to a valuable new tool in the software engineer's toolkit.

  2. ZEBRA battery meets USABC goals

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dustmann, Cord-H.

    In 1990, the California Air Resources Board has established a mandate to introduce electric vehicles in order to improve air quality in Los Angeles and other capitals. The United States Advanced Battery Consortium has been formed by the big car companies, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Department of Energy in order to establish the requirements on EV-batteries and to support battery development. The ZEBRA battery system is a candidate to power future electric vehicles. Not only because its energy density is three-fold that of lead acid batteries (50% more than NiMH) but also because of all the other EV requirements such as power density, no maintenance, summer and winter operation, safety, failure tolerance and low cost potential are fulfilled. The electrode material is plain salt and nickel in combination with a ceramic electrolyte. The cell voltage is 2.58 V and the capacity of a standard cell is 32 Ah. Some hundred cells are connected in series and parallel to form a battery with about 300 V OCV. The battery system including battery controller, main circuit-breaker and cooling system is engineered for vehicle integration and ready to be mounted in a vehicle [J. Gaub, A. van Zyl, Mercedes-Benz Electric Vehicles with ZEBRA Batteries, EVS-14, Orlando, FL, Dec. 1997]. The background of these features are described.

  3. Hypothalamic oxytocin and vasopressin neurons exert sex-specific effects on pair bonding, gregariousness, and aggression in finches.

    PubMed

    Kelly, Aubrey M; Goodson, James L

    2014-04-22

    Antagonism of oxytocin (OT) receptors (OTRs) impairs the formation of pair bonds in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) and zebra finches (Taenioypygia guttata), and also reduces the preference for the larger of two groups ("gregariousness") in finches. These effects tend to be stronger in females. The contributions of specific peptide cell groups to these processes remain unknown, however. This issue is complicated by the fact that OTRs in finches and voles bind not only forms of OT, but also vasopressin (VP), and >10 cell groups produce each peptide in any given species. Using RNA interference, we found that knockdown of VP and OT production in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus exerts diverse behavioral effects in zebra finches, most of which are sexually differentiated. Our data show that knockdown of VP production significantly reduces gregariousness in both sexes and exerts sex-specific effects on aggression directed toward opposite-sex birds (increases in males; decreases in females), whereas OT knockdown produces female-specific deficits in gregariousness, pair bonding, and nest cup ownership; reduces side-by-side perching in both sexes; modulates stress coping; and induces hyperphagia in males. These findings demonstrate that paraventricular neurons are major contributors to the effects of VP-OT peptides on pair bonding and gregariousness; reveal previously unknown effects of sex-specific peptide on opposite-sex aggression; and demonstrate a surprising lack of effects on same-sex aggression. Finally, the observed effects of OT knockdown on feeding and stress coping parallel findings in mammals, suggesting that OT modulation of these processes is evolutionarily conserved across the amniote vertebrate classes. PMID:24711411

  4. A comparison of spontaneous problem-solving abilities in three estrildid finch (Taeniopygia guttata, Lonchura striata var. domestica, Stagonopleura guttata) species.

    PubMed

    Schmelz, Martin; Krüger, Oliver; Call, Josep; Krause, E Tobias

    2015-11-01

    Cognition has been extensively studied in primates while other, more distantly related taxa have been neglected for a long time. More recently, there has been an increased interest in avian cognition, with the focus mostly on big-brained species like parrots and corvids. However, the majority of bird species has never systematically been studied in diverse cognitive tasks other than memory and learning tasks, so not much can yet be concluded about the relevant factors for the evolution of cognition. Here we examined 3 species of the estrildid finch family in problem-solving tasks. These granivorous, non-tool-using birds are distributed across 3 continents and are not known for high levels of innovation or spontaneous problem solving in the wild. In this study, our aim was to find such abilities in these species, assess what role domestication might play with a comparison of 4 genetically separated zebra finch strains, and to look for between-species differences between zebra finches, Bengalese finches, and diamond firetails. Furthermore, we established a 3-step spontaneous problem-solving procedure with increasing levels of complexity. Results showed that some estrildid finches were generally capable of spontaneously solving problems of variable complexity to obtain food. We found striking differences in these abilities between species, but not between strains within species, and offer a discussion of potential reasons. Our established methodology can now be applied to a larger number of bird species for phylogenetic comparisons on the behavioral level to get a deeper understanding of the evolution of cognitive abilities. PMID:26301340

  5. Steam treatment of zebra mussels

    SciTech Connect

    Tsou, J.; Rybarik, D.L.; Thiel, J.

    1995-06-01

    Steam injection into intake bays is a nonchemical method to control zebra mussels. This technique was demonstrated at Dairyland Power Cooperative`s J.P. Madgett Station located in Alma, Wisconsin. The project was funded by the EPRI Zebra Mussel Consortium which includes: Dairyland Power Cooperative, Central Illinois Public Service, Duke Power, Illinois Power Company, PSI Energy, Public Service Electric & Gas, and Tennessee Valley Authority. This technique can be used by other power plants with a similar problem. A contract between Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation (Stone & Webster) was initiated in August 1994. The steam treatments were performed at the J.P. Madgett intake in Alma, Wisconsin, on September 14 and 18, 1994. The J.P. Madgett Station has two water intake bays with storage capacities of approximately 295,000 and 265,000 gallons, respectively. Each intake can be isolated, permitting either full or reduced generation depending on river temperature conditions. In addition to the intake bays, the outside fire protection loop and hydrants were also treated with the hot water from one of the bays. This paper presents the process design, piping and steam educator configurations, portable industrial boiler sizing and description, and the thermocouples to monitor the water temperature in the intake bay. The biological mortality and control test protocol and treatment results are also presented. Treatment effectiveness was 100%; however, equipment installation and operation was more problematic than anticipated. A generic computer program is developed and verified using thermal data from the test. The PC program will allow other utilities to size the boiler and estimate the heat losses from an intake bay. The treatment also provided valuable information that simplifies future applications and provides for more realistic design and installation schedules and costs.

  6. A Zebra in the Classroom.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Leake, Devin; Morvillo, Nancy

    1998-01-01

    Describes the care and breeding of zebra fish, suggests various experiments and observations easily performed in a classroom setting, and provides some ideas to further student interest and exploration of these organisms. (DDR)

  7. Using Massive Parallel Sequencing for the Development, Validation, and Application of Population Genetics Markers in the Invasive Bivalve Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)

    PubMed Central

    Peñarrubia, Luis; Sanz, Nuria; Pla, Carles; Vidal, Oriol; Viñas, Jordi

    2015-01-01

    The zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha, Pallas, 1771) is one of the most invasive species of freshwater bivalves, due to a combination of biological and anthropogenic factors. Once this species has been introduced to a new area, individuals form dense aggregations that are very difficult to remove, leading to many adverse socioeconomic and ecological consequences. In this study, we identified, tested, and validated a new set of polymorphic microsatellite loci (also known as SSRs, Single Sequence Repeats) using a Massive Parallel Sequencing (MPS) platform. After several pruning steps, 93 SSRs could potentially be amplified. Out of these SSRs, 14 were polymorphic, producing a polymorphic yield of 15.05%. These 14 polymorphic microsatellites were fully validated in a first approximation of the genetic population structure of D. polymorpha in the Iberian Peninsula. Based on this polymorphic yield, we propose a criterion for establishing the number of SSRs that require validation in similar species, depending on the final use of the markers. These results could be used to optimize MPS approaches in the development of microsatellites as genetic markers, which would reduce the cost of this process. PMID:25780924

  8. Using Massive Parallel Sequencing for the development, validation, and application of population genetics markers in the invasive bivalve zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha).

    PubMed

    Peñarrubia, Luis; Sanz, Nuria; Pla, Carles; Vidal, Oriol; Viñas, Jordi

    2015-01-01

    The zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha, Pallas, 1771) is one of the most invasive species of freshwater bivalves, due to a combination of biological and anthropogenic factors. Once this species has been introduced to a new area, individuals form dense aggregations that are very difficult to remove, leading to many adverse socioeconomic and ecological consequences. In this study, we identified, tested, and validated a new set of polymorphic microsatellite loci (also known as SSRs, Single Sequence Repeats) using a Massive Parallel Sequencing (MPS) platform. After several pruning steps, 93 SSRs could potentially be amplified. Out of these SSRs, 14 were polymorphic, producing a polymorphic yield of 15.05%. These 14 polymorphic microsatellites were fully validated in a first approximation of the genetic population structure of D. polymorpha in the Iberian Peninsula. Based on this polymorphic yield, we propose a criterion for establishing the number of SSRs that require validation in similar species, depending on the final use of the markers. These results could be used to optimize MPS approaches in the development of microsatellites as genetic markers, which would reduce the cost of this process. PMID:25780924

  9. Darwin's Galapagos finches in modern biology.

    PubMed

    Abzhanov, Arhat

    2010-04-12

    One of the classic examples of adaptive radiation under natural selection is the evolution of 15 closely related species of Darwin's finches (Passeriformes), whose primary diversity lies in the size and shape of their beaks. Since Charles Darwin and other members of the Beagle expedition collected these birds on the Galápagos Islands in 1835 and introduced them to science, they have been the subjects of intense research. Many biology textbooks use Darwin's finches to illustrate a variety of topics of evolutionary theory, such as speciation, natural selection and niche partitioning. Today, as this Theme Issue illustrates, Darwin's finches continue to be a very valuable source of biological discovery. Certain advantages of studying this group allow further breakthroughs in our understanding of changes in recent island biodiversity, mechanisms of speciation and hybridization, evolution of cognitive behaviours, principles of beak/jaw biomechanics as well as the underlying developmental genetic mechanisms in generating morphological diversity. Our objective was to bring together some of the key workers in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology who study Darwin's finches or whose studies were inspired by research on Darwin's finches. Insights provided by papers collected in this Theme Issue will be of interest to a wide audience. PMID:20194163

  10. USGS Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program for north Texas

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Churchill, Christopher J.; Baldys, Stanley

    2012-01-01

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program for north Texas provides early detection and monitoring of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) by using a holistic suite of detection methods. The program is designed to assess zebra mussel occurrence, distribution, and densities in north Texas waters by using four approaches: (1) SCUBA diving, (2) water-sample collection with plankton tow nets (followed by laboratory analyses), (3) artificial substrates, and (4) water-quality sampling. Data collected during this type of monitoring can assist rapid response efforts and can be used to quantify the economic and ecological effects of zebra mussels in the north Texas area. Monitoring under this program began in April 2010. The presence of large zebra mussel populations often causes undesirable economic and ecological effects, including damage to water-processing infrastructure and hydroelectric powerplants (with an estimated 10-year cost of $3.1 billion), displacement of native mussels, increases in concentrations of certain species of cyanobacteria, and increases in concentrations of geosmin (an organic compound that results in taste and odor issues in water). Since no large-scale, environmentally safe eradication method has been developed for zebra mussels, it is difficult to remove established populations. Broad physicochemical adaptability, prolific reproductive capacity, and rapid dispersal methods have enabled zebra mussels, within a period of about 20 years, to establish populations under differing environmental conditions across much of the eastern part of the United States. In Texas, the presence of zebra mussels was first confirmed in April 2009 in Lake Texoma in the Red River Basin along the Texas-Oklahoma border. They were most likely introduced into Lake Texoma through overland transport from an infested water body. Since then, the presence of zebra mussels has been reported in both the Red River and Washita River arms of Lake Texoma, in