SciCombinator

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Concept: Threskiornithidae

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The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is highly polymorphic and plays a central role in the vertebrate immune system. Despite its functional consistency, the MHC genomic structure differs substantially among organisms. In birds, the MHCs of Galliformes and the Japanese crested ibis (Pelecaniformes) are well-characterized, but information about other avian MHCs remains scarce. The Oriental stork (Ciconia boyciana, order Ciconiiformes) is a large endangered migrant. The current Japanese population of this bird originates from a few founders; thus, understanding the genetic diversity among them is critical for effective population management. We report the structure and polymorphisms in C. boyciana MHC. One contig (approximately 128 kb) was assembled by screening of lambda phage genomic library and its complete sequence was determined, revealing a gene order of COL11A2, two copies of MHC-IIA/IIB pairs, BRD2, DMA/B1/B2, MHC-I, TAP1/2, and two copies each of pseudo MHC-I and TNXB. This structure was highly similar to that of the Japanese crested ibis, but largely different from that of Galliformes, at both the terminal regions. Genotyping of the MHC-II region detected 10 haplotypes among the six founders. These results provide valuable insights for future studies on the evolution of the avian MHCs and for conservation of C. boyciana.

Concepts: Immune system, Genetics, Bird, Major histocompatibility complex, Stork, Threskiornithidae, Ciconia

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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

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The parasitic quill mites of the family Syringophilidae (Acariformes: Prostigmata) are recorded on ibises and spoonbills (Pelecaniformes: Threskiornithidae) for the first time. Four new species of the genus Stibarokris Kethley, 1970 are described: 1) S. theristicus Skoracki, Zmudzinski & Unsoeld sp. nov. ex Theristicus caudatus (Boddaert, 1783) from Brazil, 2) S. geronticus Skoracki, Zmudzinski & Unsoeld sp. nov. ex Geronticus calvus (Boddaert, 1783) from South Africa, 3) S. brevisetosus Skoracki & Zmudzinski sp. nov. ex Plegadis falcinellus (L., 1766) from Turkey, and 4) S. plataleus Skoracki & Zmudzinski sp. nov. ex Platalea leucorodia L., 1758 from Austria. Additionally, a key to all described species in the genus is presented, and hypothesis of the Gondwanan origin of syringophilids associated with ibises and spoonbills is briefly discussed.

Concepts: Threskiornithidae, Ibis, Geronticus, Spoonbill, Southern Bald Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Buff-necked Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill

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Paddy fields have traditionally been viewed as the key foraging habitats for the endangered crested ibis (Nipponia nippon). With the population of this species now increasing, its distribution has expanded to both lowland areas and outside the nature reserve. However, little is known about the current foraging habitat preferences of these birds, especially during winter. In this research, a total of 54 used sites and 50 unused sites were investigated during winter from December 2011 to January 2012. The results of logistic regression analysis indicate that soil softness, human disturbance, and distance to the nearest road were important factors. For the site plots of winter-flooded paddy fields, the birds prefer the paddy fields with higher coverage of vegetation, except softer foraging sites and lower human-related disturbance. In lowland areas, the size of winter-flooded paddy fields was not a limiting factor, due to the availability of other wetlands capable of providing abundant food. The micro-habitat characteristics were important indicators of foraging habitat quality rather than the size of winter-flooded paddy fields, and the food accessibility may play an important role in the process of foraging habitat use. We suggest the improvement of the foraging micro-habitat and environmental characteristics would be effective in ensuring the availability of food in the dispersed lowland areas. The local people still needed to be encouraged and compensated by their single-cropping cultivation, ploughed the paddy fields after harvesting and irrigated them with shallow water flooded in the original core areas of the nature reserve.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Irrigation, Winter, Paddy field, Threskiornithidae, Crested Ibis, Sado, Niigata

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The composition, structure and pattern of helminth assemblages associated with the storks (Ciconiidae), ibises and spoonbills (Threskiornithidae) are poorly understood. Here we analyze the prevalence, intensity and diversity of the helminth component communities associated with the white stork Ciconia ciconia and black stork Ciconia nigra, and notice the findings of helminths on Eurasian spoonbill Platalea leucorodia and glossy ibis Plegadis falcinellus obtained in the Czech Republic in years 1962-2013. Comparison with datasets from multiple European countries supports the existence of well-defined local helminth component communities, which are subject to strong geographic variation. The estimated diversity of the helminth component communities reached 11.0±1.6 (C. ciconia) and 12.5±5.4 (C. nigra) species, with the Berger-Parker dominance index reaching only 0.24 and 0.21, respectively. Typically, the dominant species (Chaunocephalus ferox, Tylodelphys excavata and Dictymetra discoidea in C. ciconia, and Cathaemasia hians and Dicheilonema ciconiae in C. nigra) were considered as local, with intermediate host species available onsite. Altogether 10 of the 11 species with known life cycle were capable to complete their life cycle locally, which is in strong contrast with the situation in Czech egrets and herons. In C. ciconia and C. nigra, the highest helminth load was in juveniles, whereas Echinostoma sudanense, absent in the juveniles, was associated with intermediate hosts absent in the study area. Relative prevalence and frequency of helminths associated with male and female C. ciconia was similar to each other. The first systematically collected evidence of the intra-annual changes of the helminth assemblages in storks is provided.

Concepts: Birds of Europe, Birds of Turkey, Stork, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, White Stork, Spoonbill, Ciconia

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Traditional agriculture benefits a rich diversity of plants and animals. The winter-flooded rice fields in the Qinling Mountains, China, are the last refuge for the endangered Asian crested ibis (Nipponia nippon), and intensive efforts have been made to protect this anthropogenic habitat. Analyses of multi-temporal satellite data indicate that winter-flooded rice fields have been continuously reduced across the current range of crested ibis during the past two decades. The rate of loss of these fields in the core-protected areas has unexpectedly increased to a higher level than that in non-protected areas in the past decade. The best fit (R (2) = 0.87) numerical response model of the crested ibis population shows that a reduction of winter-flooded rice fields decreases population growth and predicts that the population growth will be constrained by the decline of traditional winter-flooded rice fields in the coming decades. Our findings suggest that the decline of traditional rice farming is likely to continue to pose a threat to the long-term survival and recovery of the crested ibis population in China.

Concepts: Agriculture, Water pollution, Sustainability, World population, Green Revolution, Threskiornithidae, Crested Ibis, Sado, Niigata

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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

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It is well established in theory that short-term environmental fluctuations could affect the long-term growth rates of wildlife populations, but this theory has rarely been tested and there remains little empirical evidence that the effect is actually important in practice. Here we develop models to quantify the effects of daily, seasonal, and yearly temperature fluctuations on the average population growth rates, and we apply them to long-term data on the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor); an endothermic species whose population growth rates follow a concave relationship with temperature. We demonstrate for the first time that the current levels of temperature variability, particularly seasonal variability, are already large enough to substantially reduce long-term population growth rates. As the climate changes, our results highlight the importance of considering the ecological effects of climate variability and not just average conditions.

Concepts: Time, Population ecology, Carrying capacity, Population growth, Threskiornithidae, Jensen's inequality, Platalea, Black-faced Spoonbill

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Many migrating birds undertake extraordinary long flights. How birds are able to perform such endurance flights of over 100-hour durations is still poorly understood. We examined energy expenditure and physiological changes in Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremite during natural flights using birds trained to follow an ultra-light aircraft. Because these birds were tame, with foster parents, we were able to bleed them immediately prior to and after each flight. Flight duration was experimentally designed ranging between one and almost four hours continuous flights. Energy expenditure during flight was estimated using doubly-labelled-water while physiological properties were assessed through blood chemistry including plasma metabolites, enzymes, electrolytes, blood gases, and reactive oxygen compounds. Instantaneous energy expenditure decreased with flight duration, and the birds appeared to balance aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, using fat, carbohydrate and protein as fuel. This made flight both economic and tolerable. The observed effects resemble classical exercise adaptations that can limit duration of exercise while reducing energetic output. There were also in-flight benefits that enable power output variation from cruising to manoeuvring. These adaptations share characteristics with physiological processes that have facilitated other athletic feats in nature and might enable the extraordinary long flights of migratory birds as well.

Concepts: Oxygen, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Threskiornithidae, Ibis, Bird flight, Northern Bald Ibis, Geronticus

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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