SciCombinator

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Concept: Northern Bald Ibis

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Northern Bald Ibis are socially monogamous and year-round colonial birds with a moderate repertoire of calls. Their ‘croop’, for example, is used during greeting of mates, but also during agonistic encounters, and provides an ideal case to study whether calls are revealing with respect to motivational states. We recorded croop calls in a semi-tame and free-roaming flock of Northern Bald Ibis in Austria, and analysed the vocal structure to identify parameters (e.g. call duration, fundamental frequency) potentially differing between social contexts, sexes and individuals. Additionally, we conducted playback experiments to test whether mated pairs would discriminate each other by their greeting croops. Acoustic features showed highly variable temporal and structural parameters. Almost all calls could be classified correctly and assigned to the different social contexts and sexes. Classification results of greeting croops were less clear for individuality. However, incubating individuals looked up more often and longer in response to playbacks of the greeting calls of their mate than to other colony members, indicating mate recognition. We show that acoustic parameters of agonistic and greeting croops contain features that may indicate the expression of affective states, and that greeting croops encode individual differences that are sufficient for individual recognition.

Concepts: Threskiornithidae, Ibis, Northern Bald Ibis, Geronticus, Souss-Massa National Park, Birecik

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Waldrapp ibis (Geronticus eremita) are a critically endangered species, and there are currently more birds in captivity than in the wild. A juvenile, male Waldrapp ibis housed in a mixed-species exhibit was found dead with no premonitory signs. Necropsy revealed extensive necrotizing hepatitis associated with numerous pleomorphic protozoa that were immunohistochemically reactive with antibodies raised against Tritrichomonas foetus, a parasite of cattle. Electron microscopy confirmed the organisms as members of family Trichomonadidae, and sequence analysis of the first ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1), 5.8S ribosomal RNA, and ITS2 regions indicated high genetic similarity (96-97%) to members of the Tetratrichomonas gallinarum complex. The animal was born in captivity, and no introductions in this exhibit had occurred since 2009. Other Waldrapp ibis that had contact with the infected male were negative for flagellate infections by fecal examination, thus cross-species transmission is proposed as the source of infection. The host range of the T. gallinarum complex is very large and although the pathogenicity of its members, especially for wild birds, is controversial, these parasites should be considered as a possible cause of acute mortality in Waldrapp ibis. In addition, immunohistochemistry with T. foetus antibodies and molecular diagnostics may be useful tools for preventative veterinary care of endangered bird populations. A greater understanding of the ecology and pathogenesis of this pathogen may also be vital for screening subclinical captive populations and existing wild populations prior to reintroduction efforts.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Ribosomal RNA, Endangered species, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, Northern Bald Ibis, Geronticus