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Concept: American White Ibis


Species distribution models (SDM) link species occurrence with a suite of environmental predictors and provide an estimate of habitat quality when the variable set captures the biological requirements of the species. SDMs are inherently more complex when they include components of a species' ecology such as conspecific attraction and behavioral flexibility to exploit resources that vary across time and space. Wading birds are highly mobile, demonstrate flexible habitat selection, and respond quickly to changes in habitat quality; thus serving as important indicator species for wetland systems. We developed a spatio-temporal, multi-SDM framework using Great Egret (Ardea alba), White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), and Wood Stork (Mycteria Americana) distributions over a decadal gradient of environmental conditions to predict species-specific abundance across space and locations used on the landscape over time. In models of temporal dynamics, species demonstrated conditional preferences for resources based on resource levels linked to differing temporal scales. Wading bird abundance was highest when prey production from optimal periods of inundation was concentrated in shallow depths. Similar responses were observed in models predicting locations used over time, accounting for spatial autocorrelation. Species clustered in response to differing habitat conditions, indicating that social attraction can co-vary with foraging strategy, water-level changes, and habitat quality. This modeling framework can be applied to evaluate the multi-annual resource pulses occurring in real-time, climate change scenarios, or restorative hydrological regimes by tracking changing seasonal and annual distribution and abundance of high quality foraging patches.

Concepts: Bird, Stork, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, American White Ibis, Birds of the United States, Great Egret, Eudocimus


Worldwide, Salmonella spp. is a significant cause of disease for both humans and wildlife, with wild birds adapted to urban environments having different opportunities for pathogen exposure, infection, and transmission compared to their natural conspecifics. Food provisioning by people may influence these factors, especially when high-density mixed species flocks aggregate. White Ibises (Eudocimus albus), an iconic Everglades species in decline in Florida, are becoming increasingly common in urbanized areas of south Florida where most are hand-fed. We examined the prevalence of Salmonella shedding by ibises to determine the role of landscape characteristics where ibis forage and their behavior, on shedding rates. We also compared Salmonella isolated from ibises to human isolates to better understand non-foodborne human salmonellosis. From 2010-2013, 13% (n = 261) adult/subadult ibises and 35% (n = 72) nestlings sampled were shedding Salmonella. The prevalence of Salmonella shedding by ibises significantly decreased as the percent of Palustrine emergent wetlands and herbaceous grasslands increased, and increased as the proportion of open-developed land types (e.g. parks, lawns, golf courses) increased, suggesting that natural ecosystem land cover types supported birds with a lower prevalence of infection. A high diversity of Salmonella serotypes (n = 24) and strain types (43 PFGE types) were shed by ibises, of which 33% of the serotypes ranked in the top 20 of high significance for people in the years of the study. Importantly, 44% of the Salmonella Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis patterns for ibis isolates (n = 43) matched profiles in the CDC PulseNet USA database. Of these, 20% came from Florida in the same three years we sampled ibis. Importantly, there was a negative relationship between the amount of Palustrine emergent wetland and the number of Salmonella isolates from ibises that matched human cases in the PulseNet database (p = 0.056). Together, our results indicate that ibises are good indicators of salmonellae strains circulating in their environment and they have both the potential and opportunity to transmit salmonellae to people. Finally, they may act as salmonellae carriers to natural environments where other more highly-susceptible groups (nestlings) may be detrimentally affected.

Concepts: Natural environment, Salmonella enterica, Salmonella, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, American White Ibis, Scarlet Ibis, Eudocimus


The present study aimed at evaluating the role of captive scarlet ibises (Eudocimus ruber) and their environment as reservoirs of Aeromonas spp. and Plesiomonas spp., and analyzing the in vitro antimicrobial susceptibility and virulence of the recovered bacterial isolates. Thus, non-lactose and weak-lactose fermenting, oxidase positive Gram-negative bacilli were recovered from cloacal samples (n = 30) of scarlet ibises kept in a conservational facility and from water samples (n = 30) from their environment. Then, the antimicrobial susceptibility, hemolytic activity and biofilm production of the recovered Aeromonas spp. and Plesiomonas shigelloides strains were assessed. In addition, the virulence-associated genes of Aeromonas spp. were detected. Ten Aeromonas veronii bv. sobria, 2 Aeromonas hydrophila complex and 10 P. shigelloides were recovered. Intermediate susceptibility to piperacillin-tazobactam and cefepime was observed in 2 Aeromonas spp. and 1 P. shigelloides, respectively, and resistance to gentamicin was observed in 4 P. shigelloides. The automated susceptibility analysis revealed resistance to piperacillin-tazobactam and meropenem among Aeromonas spp. and intermediate susceptibility to gentamicin among P. shigelloides. All Aeromonas isolates presented hemolytic activity, while 3 P. shigelloides were non-hemolytic. All Aeromonas spp. and 3/10 P. shigelloides were biofilm-producers, at 28 °C, while 10 Aeromonas spp. and 6/10 P. shigelloides produced biofilms, at 37 °C. The most prevalent virulence genes of Aeromonas spp. were asa1 and ascV. Scarlet ibises and their environment harbour potentially pathogenic bacteria, thus requiring monitoring and measures to prevent contamination of humans and other animals.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, American White Ibis, Scarlet Ibis, Eudocimus


The Eudocimus ruber (Scarlet ibis) belongs to the bird order Pelecaniformes. Here, we sequenced the mitochondrial genome of E. ruber. The complete mitochondrial genome of E. ruber is 16 697 bp in length and contains 22 tRNA genes, 2 rRNA genes, 13 protein-coding genes and a non-coding control region. Consistent with other sequenced birds, most genes are encoded on the heavy strand, except for ND6 and 8 tRNA genes. The overall base composition of the E. ruber is 30.8% A, 30.8% C, 13.8%G and 24.6% T. The molecular-based phylogenetic tree suggested that E. ruber has close affinities with birds from family Threskiornithidae as expected.

Concepts: DNA, RNA, Horizontal gene transfer, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, American White Ibis, Scarlet Ibis, Eudocimus


M aritrema corai n. sp. is described based on material from the intestine of the white ibis Eudocimus albus (L.) (Threskiornithidae) in Mexico. The new species can be distinguished morphologically from all congeners by the unique combination of the following morphological features: a very long cirrus sac attenuated distally [cirrus sac to body length ratio 1:0.90-1.29 (mean 1:1.07)]; a large, elongate-oval seminal receptacle, located dorsally between the cirrus sac and ovary; and long, filiform, unarmed, evaginable cirrus. Phylogenetic analyses of 28S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequences for the new species and for Maritrema spp. and Microphallus spp. depicted strong support for the two genera (excluding Microphallus fusiformis) and revealed close relationships between Ma. corai n. sp. and the clade formed by Maritrema novaezealandense Martorelli, Fredensborg, Mouritsen & Poulin, 2004, Maritrema heardi (Kinsella & Deblock, 1994) and Maritrema cf. eroliae.

Concepts: Species, Binomial nomenclature, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, American White Ibis, Scarlet Ibis, Eudocimus, Australian White Ibis


Light absorption by carotenoids is known to vary substantially with the shape or conformation of the pigment molecule induced by the molecular environment, but the role of interactions between carotenoid pigments and the proteins to which they are bound, and the resulting impact on organismal coloration, remain unclear. Here, we present a spectroscopic investigation of feathers from the brilliant red scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber, Threskiornithidae), the orange-red summer tanager (Piranga rubra, Cardinalidae) and the violet-purple feathers of the white-browed purpletuft (Iodopleura isabellae, Tityridae). Despite their striking differences in colour, all three of these feathers contain canthaxanthin (β,β-carotene-4,4'-dione) as their primary pigment. Reflectance and resonance Raman (rR) spectroscopy were used to investigate the induced molecular structural changes and carotenoid-protein interactions responsible for the different coloration in these plumage samples. The results demonstrate a significant variation between species in the peak frequency of the strong ethylenic vibration (ν(1)) peak in the rR spectra, the most significant of which is found in I. isabellae feathers and is correlated with a red-shift in canthaxanthin absorption that results in violet reflectance. Neither polarizability of the protein environment nor planarization of the molecule upon binding can entirely account for the full extent of the colour shift. Therefore, we suggest that head-to-tail molecular alignment (i.e. J-aggregation) of the protein-bound carotenoid molecules is an additional factor.

Concepts: DNA, Carotenoid, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, Tanager, Iodopleura, American White Ibis, Scarlet Ibis