Cunha, Mónica V; Azorín, Beatriz; Peñuela, Rocío G; Albuquerque, Teresa; Botelho, Ana
Anthropogenic activities have cumulatively led to the dramatic decline of world populations of vultures that currently face serious survival challenges in several regions of the world. In Portugal, the three resident species qualify as endangered and are under conservation efforts, mainly in the central east and south-east regions, where habitat protection and artificial feeding stations were implemented. Concurrently, the areas under protection are highly affected by tuberculosis (TB) in cattle and wild ungulates, whose potentially infected carcasses may naturally or artificially be used as feed by local vultures. In this work, we opportunistically surveyed populations of Eurasian griffon (Gyps fulvus) and Eurasian black vulture (Aegypius monachus) for the presence of Mycobacterium bovis. Nine pathogenic mycobacteria, including one M. bovis isolate, were cultured from the oropharynx of nine of the surveyed vultures (n = 55), sampled in recovery centres or in artificial feeding stations. Genotyping of the M. bovis strain indicated spoligotype SB0121, the most frequent type in Portugal, and a unique MIRU-VNTR profile that differed in two loci from the profiles of SB0121 bovine and deer strains from the same geographical area. The M. bovis-positive griffon exhibited poor clinical condition when admitted to the recovery centre; however, clinical evidence of TB was not present. Although the significance of M. bovis isolation in this vulture specimen could not be ascertained and despite the accepted notion that vultures are naturally resistant to microbial pathogens, the sanitary follow-up of Accipitridae vulture populations in TB-hotspot areas is essential to safeguard ongoing conservation efforts and also to evaluate the suitability of standing legislation on deliberate supplementary feeding schemes for menaced birds of prey.
do Amaral, Fabio S Raposo; Miller, Matthew J; Silveira, Luís Fábio; Bermingham, Eldredge; Wajntal, Anita
Background The family Accipitridae (hawks, eagles and Old World vultures) represents a large radiation of predatory birds with an almost global distribution, although most species of this family occur in the Neotropics. Despite great morphological and ecological diversity, the evolutionary relationships in the family have been poorly explored at all taxonomic levels. Using sequences from four mitochondrial genes (12S, ATP8, ATP6, and ND6), we reconstructed the phylogeny of the Neotropical forest hawk genus Leucopternis and most of the allied genera of Neotropical buteonines. Our goals were to infer the evolutionary relationships among species of Leucopternis, estimate their relationships to other buteonine genera, evaluate the phylogenetic significance of the white and black plumage patterns common to most Leucopternis species, and assess general patterns of diversification of the group with respect to species' affiliations with Neotropical regions and habitats. Results Our molecular phylogeny for the genus Leucopternis and its allies disagrees sharply with traditional taxonomic arrangements for the group, and we present new hypotheses of relationships for a number of species. The mtDNA phylogenetic trees derived from analysis of the combined data posit a polyphyletic relationship among species of Leucopternis, Buteogallus and Buteo. Three highly supported clades containing Leucopternis species were recovered in our phylogenetic reconstructions. The first clade consisted of the sister pairs L. lacernulatus and Buteogallus meridionalis, and Buteogallus urubitinga and Harpyhaliaetus coronatus, in addition to L. schistaceus and L. plumbeus. The second clade included the sister pair Leucopternis albicollis and L. occidentalis as well as L. polionotus. The third lineage comprised the sister pair L. melanops and L. kuhli, in addition to L. semiplumbeus and Buteo buteo. According to our results, the white and black plumage patterns have evolved at least twice in the group
do Amaral, Fábio Raposo; Sheldon, Frederick H; Gamauf, Anita; Haring, Elisabeth; Riesing, Martin; Silveira, Luís F; Wajntal, Anita
Buteonine hawks represent one of the most diverse groups in the Accipitridae, with 58 species distributed in a variety of habitats on almost all continents. Variations in migratory behavior, remarkable dispersal capability, and unusual diversity in Central and South America make buteonine hawks an excellent model for studies in avian evolution. To evaluate the history of their global radiation, we used an integrative approach that coupled estimation of the phylogeny using a large sequence database (based on 6411 bp of mitochondrial markers and one nuclear intron from 54 species), divergence time estimates, and ancestral state reconstructions. Our findings suggest that Neotropical buteonines resulted from a long evolutionary process that began in the Miocene and extended to the Pleistocene. Colonization of the Nearctic, and eventually the Old World, occurred from South America, promoted by the evolution of seasonal movements and development of land bridges. Migratory behavior evolved several times and may have contributed not only to colonization of the Holarctic, but also derivation of insular species. In the Neotropics, diversification of the buteonines included four disjunction events across the Andes. Adaptation of monophyletic taxa to wet environments occurred more than once, and some relationships indicate an evolutionary connection among mangroves, coastal and várzea environments. On the other hand, groups occupying the same biome, forest, or open vegetation habitats are not monophyletic. Refuges or sea-level changes or a combination of both was responsible for recent speciation in Amazonian taxa. In view of the lack of concordance between phylogeny and classification, we propose numerous taxonomic changes.
Scheibler, D R
I examined the diet of breeding White-tailed Kites (Elanus leucurus; Aves; Accipitridae) and Barn Owls (Tyto alba; Aves; Tytonidae) in an agrarian area of southern Brazil by analyzing regurgitated prey remains. The objective was to evaluate how these raptors, which differ markedly in their hunting activity periods (owls are nocturnal and kites diurnal), share their mammalian food component. 2,087 prey consumed by Barn Owls and 1,276 by White-tailed Kites were identified. They presented a high overlap of food-niches (Piankas index was 0.98). Based on the daily activity period of their main small mammal prey, a lower overlap would be expected. The crepuscular/nocturnal Mus musculus was the main prey for the diet of breeding Barn Owls (81%) and White-tailed Kites (63%). This small exotic rodent provided 63% of the small mammal biomass ingested by owls and 44% by kites. Larger native small mammals were also considered important for the diet of kites, mainly because of their biomass contribution. Although these raptors differ markedly in their hunting activity periods, Barn Owls and White-tailed Kites are very similar predators in southern Brazil, overlapping their diets.
Wiley, J.W.; Garrido, O.H.
We reevaluate the taxonomic status of the Cuban population of the Common Black-Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) based on our examination of additional specimens, nests, eggs, and voice data. Buteogallus a. gundlachii is smaller than mainland populations of anthracinus and differs from mainland birds in plumage coloration and pattern. The common (alarm) call of gundlachii is a series of three or four notes, differing from that of mainland anthracinus, whose call consists of 9-24 notes. In the Isla de Pinos, Cuba, we observed gundlachii eating two species of land crabs (71.4%), centipedes (7.1%), lizards (10.7%), mammals (7.1%), and a bird (3.6%). We consider Buteogallus gundlachii Cabanis 1854 (1855), the Cuban Black-Hawk, to be a full species, endemic to Cuba, Isla de Pinos, and many of the cays of the Cuban Archipelago. ?? 2005 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.
Nanda, I; Karl, E; Volobouev, V; Griffin, D K; Schartl, M; Schmid, M
The karyotypes of most birds consist of a small number of macrochromosomes and numerous microchromosomes. Intriguingly, most accipitrids which include hawks, eagles, kites, and Old World vultures (Falconiformes) show a sharp contrast to this basic avian karyotype. They exhibit strikingly few microchromosomes and appear to have been drastically restructured during evolution. Chromosome paints specific to the chicken (GGA) macrochromosomes 1-10 were hybridized to metaphase spreads of three species of Old World vultures (Gyps rueppelli, Gyps fulvus, Gypaetus barbatus). Paints of GGA chromosomes 6-10 hybridize only to single chromosomes or large chromosome segments, illustrating the existence of high chromosome homology. In contrast, paints of the large macrochromosomes 1-5 show split hybridization signals on the chromosomes of the accipitrids, disclosing excessive chromosome rearrangements which is in clear contrast to the high degree of chromosome conservation substantiated from comparative chromosome painting in other birds. Furthermore, the GGA chromosome paint hybridization patterns reveal remarkable interchromosomal conservation among the two species of the genus Gyps.
McAllister, Chris T; Duszynski, Donald W; McKown, Richard D
Between March 1989 and February 1994, 4 bald eagles ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) from various localities in Kansas were examined for coccidia. One (25%) of the bald eagles was found to be passing an undescribed species of Caryospora in its feces. Oocysts of Caryospora hanebrinki n. sp. are ellipsoidal to ovoidal with a bilayered wall and measure 48.1 × 42.1 μm with a shape index of 1.2. A micropyle, oocyst residuum, and polar granule were absent. Sporocysts are spheroidal, 24.8 μm wide. Stieda, substieda, and parastieda bodies were absent; a spheroidal sporocyst residuum is present; it measures 17.5 μm and is composed of many intact homogenous globules with a few dispersed in a loose spiral around the sporocysts. This is the first caryosporan documented from the bald eagle and is the largest known Caryospora from raptors.
Chang, H-W; Gu, D-L; Su, S-H; Chang, C-C; Cheng, C-A; Huang, H-W; Yao, C-T; Chou, T-C; Chuang, L-Y; Cheng, C-C
The objective was to develop high-throughput gender identification of eagles. Based on BLAST and alignment analyses, the CHD-Z and CHD-W sequences of nine species of eagles were highly homologous with Spilornis cheela hoya (S. c. hoya); therefore, TaqMan probes were designed to target their CHD-ZW-common and CHD-W-specific regions. In S. c. hoya, genders were identified using TaqMan-based, real-time PCR (amplified by P2/P8 primers); this method was validated with anatomically confirmed controls (one of each gender). Both genders had high intensities of the HEX-labeled (CHD-ZW-common) probe, whereas only females had high intensity of the FAM-labeled (CHD-W-specific) probe. The sequence of the CHD-W-specific probe designed for S. c. hoya was completely homologous with the CHD-W-specific region in Circaetus gallicus, Gyps indicus, and Gyps bengalensis, and was only one nucleotide different from those of Accipiter nisus, Spizaetus nipalensis, Aquila chrysaetos, Circus spilonotus, and Milvus migrans. For the CHD-ZW-common probe, all species listed were completely conserved. Using real-time PCR software, we established auto-calling of the genders of 15 individuals of S. c. hoya. In conclusion, this method provided accurate, high-throughput gender identification for S. c. hoya, and has considerable potential for identifying the gender of several related species of eagles.
Mayr, Sylvia L; Maier, Kristina; Müller, Jana; Enderlein, Dirk; Gruber, Achim D; Lierz, Michael
Sarcocystis is a large genus of protozoan parasites with complex heteroxenous life cycles. For many species, either the intermediate or the definitive host is still unknown. In this study, 116 Accipiter hawks (Eurasian sparrowhawks and northern goshawks) were investigated for the presence of Sarcocystis spp. in their intestinal tract or their faeces. To gain a wide distribution, samples were collected throughout Germany within 2 years. It was possible to detect Sarcocystis-like oocysts in 65 samples. Sequencing of the ITS region or species-specific PCR identified 33 samples as Sarcocystis turdusi/Sarcocystis sp. ex A. nisus (18), Sarcocystis calchasi (6), Sarcocystis columbae (3), Sarcocystis cornixi (3) and Sarcocystis sp. ex Phalacrocorax carbo (3). Besides the known infestation with S. columbae, S. sp. ex A. nisus and S. calchasi the Accipiter hawks were thereby confirmed as definitive host of S. turdusi, S. cornixi and S. sp. ex Phalacrocorax carbo for the first time.
Zmudzinski, Mateusz; Unsoeld, Markus; Knee, Wayne; Skoracki, Maciej
Four accipitriform bird species of the family Accipitridae are reported as new hosts for quill mites (Acari: Cheyletoidea: Syringophilidae): Megasyringophilus aquilus Skoracki, Lontkowski and Stawarczyk, 2010 was collected from Hieraaetus pennatus Gmelin, 1788 in France and Spain, and Buteo jamaicensis Gmelin, 1788 in Canada; Peristerophila accipitridicus Skoracki, Lontkowski and Stawarczyk, 2010 was collected from Circaetus gallicus Gmelin, 1788 in France, and Buteo lagopus Pontoppidan, 1763 in Germany.
Jiang, Lan; Chen, Juan; Wang, Ping; Ren, Qiongqiong; Yuan, Jian; Qian, Chaoju; Hua, Xinghong; Guo, Zhichun; Zhang, Lei; Yang, Jianke; Wang, Ying; Zhang, Qin; Ding, Hengwu; Bi, De; Zhang, Zongmeng; Wang, Qingqing; Chen, Dongsheng; Kan, Xianzhao
The family Accipitridae is one of the largest groups of non-passerine birds, including 68 genera and 243 species globally distributed. In the present study, we determined the complete mitochondrial sequences of two species of accipitrid, namely Aquila fasciata and Buteo lagopus, and conducted a comparative mitogenome analysis across the family. The mitogenome length of A. fasciata and B. lagopus are 18,513 and 18,559 bp with an A + T content of 54.2% and 55.0%, respectively. For both the two accipitrid birds mtDNAs, obvious positive AT-skew and negative GC-skew biases were detected for all 12 PCGs encoded by the H strand, whereas the reverse was found in MT-ND6 encoded by the L strand. One extra nucleotide‘C’is present at the position 174 of MT-ND3 gene of A. fasciata, which is not observed at that of B. lagopus. Six conserved sequence boxes in the Domain II, named boxes F, E, D, C, CSBa, and CSBb, respectively, were recognized in the CRs of A. fasciata and B. lagopus. Rates and patterns of mitochondrial gene evolution within Accipitridae were also estimated. The highest dN/dS was detected for the MT-ATP8 gene (0.32493) among Accipitridae, while the lowest for the MT-CO1 gene (0.01415). Mitophylogenetic analysis supported the robust monophyly of Accipitriformes, and Cathartidae was basal to the balance of the order. Moreover, we performed phylogenetic analyses using two other data sets (two mitochondrial loci, and combined nuclear and mitochondrial loci). Our results indicate that the subfamily Aquilinae and all currently polytypic genera of this subfamily are monophyletic. These two novel mtDNA data will be useful in refining the phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary processes of Accipitriformes. PMID:26295156
Igl, Lawrence D.; Chepulis, Brian J.; McLean, Kyle E.
Present-day vultures are generally classified into two distinct groups: Old World vultures and new World vultures. The two groups share morphological and behavioral characters (e.g. scavenger diet, energy-efficient soaring, mostly featherless head), but historically the two groups were considered phylogenetically distant with long and independent histories (Rich 198., Wink 1995, Zhang et al. 2012). Old World vultures occur in the family Accipitridae and are closely related to hawks and eagles. New World Vultures occur in the family Cathartidae but their taxonomic placement has been controversial. New World vultures were previously allied with storks (Ciconiidae) but were usually placed within the order Falconiformes. Recent phylogenomic analyses using DNA sequencing suggest that new World vultures show no affinity with storks and support placement of New World vultures with other landbirds (in the order Accipitriformes, near Accipitridae) rather than with waterbirds (Hackett et al. 2008). Old World vultures presently are confined to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and New World vultures presently occur in North and South America.
Mahmood, Muhammad Tariq; McLenachan, Patricia A; Gibb, Gillian C; Penny, David
We report three new avian mitochondrial genomes, two from widely separated groups of owls and a falcon relative (the Secretarybird). We then report additional progress in resolving Neoavian relationships in that the two groups of owls do come together (it is not just long-branch attraction), and the Secretarybird is the deepest divergence on the Accipitridae lineage. This is now agreed between mitochondrial and nuclear sequences. There is no evidence for the monophyly of the combined three groups of raptors (owls, eagles, and falcons), and again this is agreed by nuclear and mitochondrial sequences. All three groups (owls, accipitrids [eagles], and falcons) do appear to be members of the "higher land birds," and though there may not yet be full "consilience" between mitochondrial and nuclear sequences for the precise order of divergences of the eagles, falcons, and the owls, there is good progress on their relationships.
Tagliarini, Marcella M; O'Brien, Patricia C M; Ferguson-Smith, Malcolm A; de Oliveira, Edivaldo H C
Similarities between New World and Old World vultures have been interpreted to reflect a close relationship and to suggest the inclusion of both in Accipitridae (Falconiformes). However, deeper analyses indicated that the placement of the New World vultures (cathartids) in this Order is uncertain. Chromosome analysis has shown that cathartids retained a karyotype similar to the putative avian ancestor. In order to verify the occurrence of intrachromosomal rearrangements in cathartids, we hybridized whole chromosome probes of two species (Gallus gallus and Leucopternis albicollis) onto metaphases of Cathartes aura. The results showed that not only were the syntenic groups conserved between Gallus and C. aura, but probably also the general gene order, suggesting that New World vultures share chromosomal symplesiomorphies with most bird lineages.
Mosto, M C
This work is the first myological dissection performed in detail on the hindlimb of Tyto alba. Six specimens were dissected and their muscle masses were obtained. T. alba has the classical myological pattern present in other species of Strigiformes, such as a well-developed m. flexor digitorum longus and the absence of the m. plantaris, flexor cruris lateralis and ambiens. Also, T. alba lacks the m. extensor propius digiti III, m. extensor propius digiti IV and m. lumbricalis, present in the Strigidae. Hindlimb muscle mass accounts for 14.13% of total body mass, which is within the range of values of both nocturnal (Strigiformes) and diurnal (Falconidae and Accipitridae) raptors. This study provides important information for future studies related to functional morphology and ecomorphology.
Mahmood, Muhammad Tariq; McLenachan, Patricia A.; Gibb, Gillian C.; Penny, David
We report three new avian mitochondrial genomes, two from widely separated groups of owls and a falcon relative (the Secretarybird). We then report additional progress in resolving Neoavian relationships in that the two groups of owls do come together (it is not just long-branch attraction), and the Secretarybird is the deepest divergence on the Accipitridae lineage. This is now agreed between mitochondrial and nuclear sequences. There is no evidence for the monophyly of the combined three groups of raptors (owls, eagles, and falcons), and again this is agreed by nuclear and mitochondrial sequences. All three groups (owls, accipitrids [eagles], and falcons) do appear to be members of the “higher land birds,” and though there may not yet be full “consilience” between mitochondrial and nuclear sequences for the precise order of divergences of the eagles, falcons, and the owls, there is good progress on their relationships. PMID:24448983
Höfle, Ursula; Blanco, J M; Kaleta, E F
Since December 1997, 700 blood plasma samples from 31 different species of captive and free-living birds of prey from Spain were analyzed by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) test for the presence of antibodies to avian paramyxovirus (aPMV) 1,2, and 3. Out of 700 birds, 120 tested positive for aPMV-1, 10 birds had antibodies to aPMV-2, and 4 birds tested positive against aPMV-3. Prevalence of antibodies against aPMV-1 was significantly higher in captive than in free-living birds of prey and in Falconiformes than in Strigidae and Accipitridae. Infection or exposure in captive birds may be due to the use of avian-derived food in rehabilitation and captive-breeding centers. This may be of concern at the time of reintroduction of these birds into free-living populations.
Fowler, Denver W; Freedman, Elizabeth A; Scannella, John B
Despite the ubiquity of raptors in terrestrial ecosystems, many aspects of their predatory behaviour remain poorly understood. Surprisingly little is known about the morphology of raptor talons and how they are employed during feeding behaviour. Talon size variation among digits can be used to distinguish families of raptors and is related to different techniques of prey restraint and immobilisation. The hypertrophied talons on digits (D) I and II in Accipitridae have evolved primarily to restrain large struggling prey while they are immobilised by dismemberment. Falconidae have only modest talons on each digit and only slightly enlarged D-I and II. For immobilisation, Falconini rely more strongly on strike impact and breaking the necks of their prey, having evolved a 'tooth' on the beak to aid in doing so. Pandionidae have enlarged, highly recurved talons on each digit, an adaptation for piscivory, convergently seen to a lesser extent in fishing eagles. Strigiformes bear enlarged talons with comparatively low curvature on each digit, part of a suite of adaptations to increase constriction efficiency by maximising grip strength, indicative of specialisation on small prey. Restraint and immobilisation strategy change as prey increase in size. Small prey are restrained by containment within the foot and immobilised by constriction and beak attacks. Large prey are restrained by pinning under the bodyweight of the raptor, maintaining grip with the talons, and immobilised by dismemberment (Accipitridae), or severing the spinal cord (Falconini). Within all raptors, physical attributes of the feet trade off against each other to attain great strength, but it is the variable means by which this is achieved that distinguishes them ecologically. Our findings show that interdigital talon morphology varies consistently among raptor families, and that this is directly correlative with variation in their typical prey capture and restraint strategy.
Blas, Julio; López, Lidia; Tanferna, Alessandro; Sergio, Fabrizio; Hiraldo, Fernando
The last decades have witnessed a surge of studies analyzing the role of sex hormones on the behavior and ecology of wild bird populations, allowing a more integrated view of the evolution of avian physiology and life histories. Despite a marked progress, field studies show a considerable bias towards research on specific phylogenetic groups, neglecting a significant fraction of the class Aves. Here we analysed changes in the circulating levels of sex steroids in relation to reproductive behaviour in wild black kites (Milvus migrans), a long-lived and socially monogamous Accipitridae raptor. Males and females displayed a single seasonal peak of circulating testosterone (males) and estradiol (females) during pre-laying and laying. Absolute male testosterone levels were low even at the seasonal maximum and remained below detection limits in females. The latter results supports the idea that avian species establishing long-term pair bonds require lower amounts of circulating androgens for reproduction. Circulating progesterone showed a single seasonal peak in females and males, but their timing (during Incubation and Post-brooding respectively) did not overlap. The fact that females black kites perform the majority of incubation and males provide the majority of care to fledglings suggests that progesterone is involved in the expression of parental behaviors.
Alcaide, Miguel; Edwards, Scott V; Negro, Juan J
During the last decade, the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) has received much attention in the fields of evolutionary and conservation biology because of its potential implications in many biological processes. New insights into the gene structure and evolution of MHC genes can be gained through study of additional lineages of birds not yet investigated at the genomic level. In this study, we characterized MHC class II B genes in five families of birds of prey (Accipitridae, Pandionidae, Strigidae, Tytonidae, and Falconidae). Using PCR approaches, we isolated genomic MHC sequences up to 1300 bp spanning exons 1 to 3 in 26 representatives of each raptor lineage, finding no stop codons or frameshift mutations in any coding region. A survey of diversity across the entirety of exon 2 in the lesser kestrel Falco naumanni reported 26 alleles in 21 individuals. Bayesian analysis revealed 21 positively selected amino acid sites, which suggests that the MHC genes described here are functional and probably expressed. Finally, through interlocus comparisons and phylogenetic analysis, we also discuss genetic evidence for concerted and transspecies evolution in the raptor MHC.
Stenkat, Julia; Krautwald-Junghanns, M-E; Schmidt, Volker
Free-living birds are often presented to veterinarians at rehabilitation centers as well as in private practice. Information about disease processes and causes of death of indigenous free-living birds can aid the clinician in establishing proper treatment and in the assessment of potential zoonotic risks. For the present study, pathogens as causes of morbidity and mortality were determined by performing a complete necropsy on free-living birds presented to the Clinic for Birds and Reptiles of the University of Leipzig (Germany) that died shortly after admission or were euthanized due to an unfavorable prognosis. Over a 2-year period, 251 birds representing 13 families (Accipitridae, Apodidae, Columbidae, Corvidae, Falconidae, Fringillidae, Hirundinidae, Paridae, Passeridae, Picidae, Strigidae, Sturnidae and Turdidae) were examined. Trauma (62%), including several bite injuries inducing bacterial septicemia caused by Pasteurella multocida, was the most common cause of morbidity. Parasitic disease (18%) was mainly caused by Trichomonas gallinae, Eucoleus dispar and Syngamus trachea. Metabolic disease (13%), including fibrous osteodystrophy, was almost exclusively limited to juvenile specimens. Different Enterobacteriaceae including E. coli, Salmonella Typhimurium DT040 as well as Mycobacterium avium ssp. avium were identified as causal agents of primary bacterial disease (5%). Primary bacterial infection as cause of death or disease was of major importance in nestlings. Viral infections, mycoses and intoxication had minor significance as causes of morbidity.
Hockey, Philip A R; Curtis, Odette E
Much research has focused on identifying traits that can act as useful indicators of how habitat loss affects the extinction risk of species, and the results are mixed. We developed 2 simple, rapid-assessment models of the susceptibility of species to habitat loss. We based both on an index of range size, but one also incorporated an index of body mass and the other an index combining habitat and dietary specialization. We applied the models to samples of birds (Accipitridae and Bucerotidae) and to the lemurs of Madagascar and compared the models' classifications of risk with the IUCN's global threat status of each species. The model derived from ecological attributes was much more robust than the one derived from body mass. Ecological attributes identified threatened birds and lemurs with an average of 80% accuracy and endangered and critically endangered species with 100% accuracy and identified some species not currently listed as threatened that almost certainly warrant conservation consideration. Appropriate analysis of even fairly crude biological information can help raise early-warning flags to the relative susceptibilities of species to habitat loss and thus provide a useful and rapid technique for highlighting potential species-level conservation issues. Advantages of this approach to classifying risk include flexibility in the specialization parameters used as well as its applicability at a range of spatial scales.
Zhang, Zihui; Feduccia, Alan; James, Helen F.
Background Old World vultures are likely polyphyletic, representing two subfamilies, the Aegypiinae and Gypaetinae, and some genera of the latter may be of independent origin. Evidence concerning the origin, as well as the timing of the divergence of each subfamily and even genera of the Gypaetinae has been elusive. Methodology/Principal Findings Compared with the Old World, the New World has an unexpectedly diverse and rich fossil component of Old World vultures. Here we describe a new accipitriform bird, Anchigyps voorhiesi gen. et sp. nov., from the Ash Hollow Formation (Upper Clarendonian, Late Miocene) of Nebraska. It represents a form close in morphology to the Old World vultures. Characteristics of its wing bones suggest it was less specialized for soaring than modern vultures. It was likely an opportunistic predator or scavenger having a grasping foot and a mandible morphologically similar to modern carrion-feeding birds. Conclusions/Significance The new fossil reported here is intermediate in morphology between the bulk of accipitrids and the Old World gypaetine vultures, representing a basal lineage of Accipitridae trending towards the vulturine habit, and of its Late Miocene age suggests the divergence of true gypaetine vultures, may have occurred during or slightly before the Miocene. PMID:23152811
Steadman, David W.; Oswald, Jessica A.; Rincón, Ascanio D.
The Neotropical lowlands sustain the world's richest bird communities, yet little that we know about their history is based on paleontology. Fossils afford a way to investigate distributional shifts in individual species, and thus improve our understanding of long-term change in Neotropical bird communities. We report a species-rich avian fossil sample from a late Pleistocene tar seep (Mene de Inciarte) in northwestern Venezuela. A mere 175 identified fossils from Mene de Inciarte represent 73 species of birds, among which six are extinct, and eight others no longer occur within 100 km. These 14 species consist mainly of ducks (Anatidae), snipe (Scolopacidae), vultures/condors (Vulturidae), hawks/eagles (Accipitridae), and blackbirds (Icteridae). Neotropical bird communities were richer in the late Pleistocene than today; their considerable extinction may be related to collapse of the large mammal fauna at that time. The species assemblage at Mene de Inciarte suggests that biogeographic patterns, even at continental scales, have been remarkably labile over short geological time frames. Mene de Inciarte is but one of 300 + tar seeps in Venezuela, only two of which have been explored for fossils. We may be on the cusp of an exciting new era of avian paleontology in the Neotropics.
Williams, Vivienne L.; Cunningham, Anthony B.; Kemp, Alan C.; Bruyns, Robin K.
Few regional or continent-wide assessments of bird use for traditional medicine have been attempted anywhere in the world. Africa has the highest known diversity of bird species used for this purpose. This study assesses the vulnerability of 354 bird species used for traditional medicine in 25 African countries, from 205 genera, 70 families, and 25 orders. The orders most represented were Passeriformes (107 species), Falconiformes (45 species), and Coraciiformes (24 species), and the families Accipitridae (37 species), Ardeidae (15 species), and Bucerotidae (12 species). The Barn owl (Tyto alba) was the most widely sold species (seven countries). The similarity of avifaunal orders traded is high (analogous to “morphospecies”, and using Sørensen's index), which suggests opportunities for a common understanding of cultural factors driving demand. The highest similarity was between bird orders sold in markets of Benin vs. Burkina Faso (90%), but even bird orders sold in two geographically separated countries (Benin vs. South Africa and Nigeria vs. South Africa) were 87% and 81% similar, respectively. Rabinowitz's “7 forms of rarity” model, used to group species according to commonness or rarity, indicated that 24% of traded bird species are very common, locally abundant in several habitats, and occur over a large geographical area, but 10% are rare, occur in low numbers in specific habitats, and over a small geographical area. The order with the highest proportion of rare species was the Musophagiformes. An analysis of species mass (as a proxy for size) indicated that large and/or conspicuous species tend to be targeted by harvesters for the traditional medicine trade. Furthermore, based on cluster analyses for species groups of similar risk, vultures, hornbills, and other large avifauna, such as bustards, are most threatened by selective harvesting and should be prioritised for conservation action. PMID:25162700
O'Rourke, Colleen T.; Hall, Margaret I.; Pitlik, Todd; Fernández-Juricic, Esteban
Background Different strategies to search and detect prey may place specific demands on sensory modalities. We studied visual field configuration, degree of eye movement, and orbit orientation in three diurnal raptors belonging to the Accipitridae and Falconidae families. Methodology/Principal Findings We used an ophthalmoscopic reflex technique and an integrated 3D digitizer system. We found inter-specific variation in visual field configuration and degree of eye movement, but not in orbit orientation. Red-tailed Hawks have relatively small binocular areas (∼33°) and wide blind areas (∼82°), but intermediate degree of eye movement (∼5°), which underscores the importance of lateral vision rather than binocular vision to scan for distant prey in open areas. Cooper's Hawks' have relatively wide binocular fields (∼36°), small blind areas (∼60°), and high degree of eye movement (∼8°), which may increase visual coverage and enhance prey detection in closed habitats. Additionally, we found that Cooper's Hawks can visually inspect the items held in the tip of the bill, which may facilitate food handling. American Kestrels have intermediate-sized binocular and lateral areas that may be used in prey detection at different distances through stereopsis and motion parallax; whereas the low degree eye movement (∼1°) may help stabilize the image when hovering above prey before an attack. Conclusions We conclude that: (a) there are between-species differences in visual field configuration in these diurnal raptors; (b) these differences are consistent with prey searching strategies and degree of visual obstruction in the environment (e.g., open and closed habitats); (c) variations in the degree of eye movement between species appear associated with foraging strategies; and (d) the size of the binocular and blind areas in hawks can vary substantially due to eye movements. Inter-specific variation in visual fields and eye movements can influence behavioral
Fowler, Denver W; Freedman, Elizabeth A; Scannella, John B; Kambic, Robert E
Most non-avian theropod dinosaurs are characterized by fearsome serrated teeth and sharp recurved claws. Interpretation of theropod predatory ecology is typically based on functional morphological analysis of these and other physical features. The notorious hypertrophied 'killing claw' on pedal digit (D) II of the maniraptoran theropod Deinonychus (Paraves: Dromaeosauridae) is hypothesized to have been a predatory adaptation for slashing or climbing, leading to the suggestion that Deinonychus and other dromaeosaurids were cursorial predators specialized for actively attacking and killing prey several times larger than themselves. However, this hypothesis is problematic as extant animals that possess similarly hypertrophied claws do not use them to slash or climb up prey. Here we offer an alternative interpretation: that the hypertrophied D-II claw of dromaeosaurids was functionally analogous to the enlarged talon also found on D-II of extant Accipitridae (hawks and eagles; one family of the birds commonly known as "raptors"). Here, the talon is used to maintain grip on prey of subequal body size to the predator, while the victim is pinned down by the body weight of the raptor and dismembered by the beak. The foot of Deinonychus exhibits morphology consistent with a grasping function, supportive of the prey immobilisation behavior model. Opposite morphological trends within Deinonychosauria (Dromaeosauridae + Troodontidae) are indicative of ecological separation. Placed in context of avian evolution, the grasping foot of Deinonychus and other terrestrial predatory paravians is hypothesized to have been an exaptation for the grasping foot of arboreal perching birds. Here we also describe "stability flapping", a novel behaviour executed for positioning and stability during the initial stages of prey immobilisation, which may have been pivotal to the evolution of the flapping stroke. These findings overhaul our perception of predatory dinosaurs and highlight the role
Fowler, Denver W.; Freedman, Elizabeth A.; Scannella, John B.; Kambic, Robert E.
Most non-avian theropod dinosaurs are characterized by fearsome serrated teeth and sharp recurved claws. Interpretation of theropod predatory ecology is typically based on functional morphological analysis of these and other physical features. The notorious hypertrophied ‘killing claw’ on pedal digit (D) II of the maniraptoran theropod Deinonychus (Paraves: Dromaeosauridae) is hypothesized to have been a predatory adaptation for slashing or climbing, leading to the suggestion that Deinonychus and other dromaeosaurids were cursorial predators specialized for actively attacking and killing prey several times larger than themselves. However, this hypothesis is problematic as extant animals that possess similarly hypertrophied claws do not use them to slash or climb up prey. Here we offer an alternative interpretation: that the hypertrophied D-II claw of dromaeosaurids was functionally analogous to the enlarged talon also found on D-II of extant Accipitridae (hawks and eagles; one family of the birds commonly known as “raptors”). Here, the talon is used to maintain grip on prey of subequal body size to the predator, while the victim is pinned down by the body weight of the raptor and dismembered by the beak. The foot of Deinonychus exhibits morphology consistent with a grasping function, supportive of the prey immobilisation behavior model. Opposite morphological trends within Deinonychosauria (Dromaeosauridae + Troodontidae) are indicative of ecological separation. Placed in context of avian evolution, the grasping foot of Deinonychus and other terrestrial predatory paravians is hypothesized to have been an exaptation for the grasping foot of arboreal perching birds. Here we also describe “stability flapping”, a novel behaviour executed for positioning and stability during the initial stages of prey immobilisation, which may have been pivotal to the evolution of the flapping stroke. These findings overhaul our perception of predatory dinosaurs and
O'Rourke, Colleen T.; Pitlik, Todd; Hoover, Melissa; Fernández-Juricic, Esteban
Background Relatively little is known about the degree of inter-specific variability in visual scanning strategies in species with laterally placed eyes (e.g., birds). This is relevant because many species detect prey while perching; therefore, head movement behavior may be an indicator of prey detection rate, a central parameter in foraging models. We studied head movement strategies in three diurnal raptors belonging to the Accipitridae and Falconidae families. Methodology/Principal Findings We used behavioral recording of individuals under field and captive conditions to calculate the rate of two types of head movements and the interval between consecutive head movements. Cooper's Hawks had the highest rate of regular head movements, which can facilitate tracking prey items in the visually cluttered environment they inhabit (e.g., forested habitats). On the other hand, Red-tailed Hawks showed long intervals between consecutive head movements, which is consistent with prey searching in less visually obstructed environments (e.g., open habitats) and with detecting prey movement from a distance with their central foveae. Finally, American Kestrels have the highest rates of translational head movements (vertical or frontal displacements of the head keeping the bill in the same direction), which have been associated with depth perception through motion parallax. Higher translational head movement rates may be a strategy to compensate for the reduced degree of eye movement of this species. Conclusions Cooper's Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, and American Kestrels use both regular and translational head movements, but to different extents. We conclude that these diurnal raptors have species-specific strategies to gather visual information while perching. These strategies may optimize prey search and detection with different visual systems in habitat types with different degrees of visual obstruction. PMID:20877650
Centeno-Cuadros, A; Abbasi, I; Nathan, R
PCR-based methods are the most common technique for sex determination of birds. Although these methods are fast, easy and accurate, they still require special facilities that preclude their application outdoors. Consequently, there is a time lag between sampling and obtaining results that impedes researchers to take decisions in situ and in real time considering individuals' sex. We present an outdoor technique for sex determination of birds based on the amplification of the duplicated sex-chromosome-specific gene Chromo-Helicase-DNA binding protein using a loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). We tested our method on Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) and Black Kite (Milvus migrans) (family Accipitridae). We introduce the first fieldwork procedure for sex determination of animals in the wild, successfully applied to raptor species of three different subfamilies using the same specific LAMP primers. This molecular technique can be deployed directly in sampling areas because it only needs a voltage inverter to adapt a thermo-block to a car lighter and results can be obtained by the unaided eye based on colour change within the reaction tubes. Primers and reagents are prepared in advance to facilitate their storage at room temperature. We provide detailed guidelines how to implement this procedure, which is simpler (no electrophoresis required), cheaper and faster (results in c. 90 min) than PCR-based laboratory methods. Our successful cross-species application across three different raptor subfamilies posits our set of markers as a promising tool for molecular sexing of other raptor families and our field protocol extensible to all bird species.
Reuter, Anne; Müller, Kerstin; Arndt, Gisela; Eule, Johanna Corinna
Intraocular pressure (IOP) was measured with the TonoVet rebound tonometer in 10 raptor species, and possible factors affecting IOP were investigated. A complete ophthalmic examination was performed, and IOP was assessed in 2 positions, upright and dorsal recumbency, in 237 birds belonging to the families Accipitridae, Falconidae, Strigidae, and Tytonidae. Mean IOP values of healthy eyes were calculated for each species, and differences between families, species, age, sex, left and right eye, as well as the 2 body positions were evaluated. Physiologic fluctuations of IOP were assessed by measuring IOP serially for 5 days at the same time of day in 15 birds of 3 species. Results showed IOP values varied by family and species, with the following mean IOP values (mm Hg +/- SD) determined: white-tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), 26.9 +/- 5.8; red kite (Milvus milvus), 13.0 +/- 5.5; northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), 18.3 +/- 3.8; Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), 15.5 +/- 2.5; common buzzard (Buteo buteo), 26.9 +/- 7.0; common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), 9.8 +/- 2.5; peregrine falcon, (Falco peregrinus), 12.7 +/- 5.8; tawny owl (Strix aluco), 9.4 +/- 4.1; long-eared owl (Asio otus), 7.8 +/- 3.2; and barn owl (Tyto alba), 10.8 +/- 3.8. No significant differences were found between sexes or between left and right eyes. In goshawks, common buzzards, and common kestrels, mean IOP was significantly lower in juvenile birds than it was in adult birds. Mean IOP differed significantly by body position in tawny owls (P = .01) and common buzzards (P = .04). By measuring IOP over several days, mean physiologic variations of +/- 2 mm Hg were detected. Differences in IOP between species and age groups should be considered when interpreting tonometric results. Physiologic fluctuations of IOP may occur and should not be misinterpreted. These results show that rebound tonometry is a useful diagnostic tool in measuring IOP in birds of prey because it provides rapid