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Background Diet-derived carotenoid pigments are concentrated in the retinas of birds and serve a variety of functions, including photoprotection. In domesticated bird species (e.g., chickens and quail), retinal carotenoid pigmentation has been shown to respond to large manipulations in light exposure and provide protection against photodamage. However, it is not known if or how wild birds respond to ecologically relevant variation in sun exposure. Methods We manipulated the duration of natural sunlight exposure and dietary carotenoid levels in wild-caught captive House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus), then measured carotenoid accumulation and oxidative stress in the retina. Results We found no significant effects ...

Contributors
Toomey, Matthew, McGraw, Kevin, Arizona State University. School of Life Sciences
Created Date
2016-03-29

Introduction Nutrient availability, assimilation, and allocation can have important and lasting effects on the immune system development of growing animals. Though carotenoid pigments have immunostimulatory properties in many animals, relatively little is known regarding how they influence the immune system during development. Moreover, studies linking carotenoids to health at any life stage have largely been restricted to birds and mammals. We investigated the effects of carotenoid supplementation on multiple aspects of immunity in juvenile veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus). We supplemented half of the chameleons with lutein (a xanthophyll carotenoid) for 14 weeks during development and serially measured multiple aspects of ...

Contributors
McCartney, Kristen, Ligon, Russell, Butler, Michael, et al.
Created Date
2014-03-22

Male courtship display is common in many animals; in some cases, males engage in courtship indiscriminately, spending significant time and energy courting heterospecifics with whom they have no chance of mating or producing viable offspring. Due to high costs and few if any benefits, we might expect mechanisms to evolve to reduce such misdirected courtship (or ‘reproductive interference’). In Habronattus jumping spiders, males frequently court heterospecifics with whom they do not mate or hybridize; females are larger and are voracious predators, posing a severe risk to males who court indiscriminately. In this study, we examined patterns of misdirected courtship in ...

Contributors
Taylor, Lisa, Powell, Erin C., McGraw, Kevin, et al.
Created Date
2017-04-05

Introduction Urbanization can considerably impact animal ecology, evolution, and behavior. Among the new conditions that animals experience in cities is anthropogenic noise, which can limit the sound space available for animals to communicate using acoustic signals. Some urban bird species increase their song frequencies so that they can be heard above low-frequency background city noise. However, the ability to make such song modifications may be constrained by several morphological factors, including bill gape, size, and shape, thereby limiting the degree to which certain species can vocally adapt to urban settings. We examined the relationship between song characteristics and bill morphology ...

Contributors
Giraudeau, Mathieu, Nolan, Paul M., Black, Caitlin E., et al.
Created Date
2014-11-12

Color vision in birds is mediated by four types of cone photoreceptors whose maximal sensitivities (λ[subscript max]) are evenly spaced across the light spectrum. In the course of avian evolution, the λ[subscript max] of the most shortwave-sensitive cone, SWS1, has switched between violet (λ[subscript max] > 400 nm) and ultraviolet (λ[subscript max] < 380 nm) multiple times. This shift of the SWS1 opsin is accompanied by a corresponding short-wavelength shift in the spectrally adjacent SWS2 cone. Here, we show that SWS2 cone spectral tuning is mediated by modulating the ratio of two apocarotenoids, galloxanthin and 11’,12’-dihydrogalloxanthin, which act as intracellular ...

Contributors
Toomey, Matthew B., Lind, Olle, Frederiksen, Rikard, et al.
Created Date
2016-07-12

Background The coevolution of male traits and female mate preferences has led to the elaboration and diversification of sexually selected traits; however the mechanisms that mediate trait-preference coevolution are largely unknown. Carotenoid acquisition and accumulation are key determinants of the expression of male sexually selected carotenoid-based coloration and a primary mechanism maintaining the honest information content of these signals. Carotenoids also influence female health and reproduction in ways that may alter the costs and benefits of mate choice behaviours and thus provide a potential biochemical link between the expression of male traits and female preferences. To test this hypothesis, we ...

Contributors
Toomey, Matthew, McGraw, Kevin, Arizona State University. School of Life Sciences
Created Date
2012-01-10

Vertebrates cannot synthesize carotenoid pigments de novo, so to produce carotenoid-based coloration they must ingest carotenoids. Most songbirds that deposit red carotenoids in feathers, bills, eyes, or skin ingest only yellow or orange dietary pigments, which they oxidize to red pigments via a ketolation reaction. It has been hypothesized that carotenoid ketolation occurs in the liver of vertebrates, but this hypothesis remains to be confirmed. To better understand the role of hepatocytes in the production of ketolated carotenoids in songbirds, we measured the carotenoid content of subcellular components of hepatocytes from wild male house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) that were molting ...

Contributors
Ge, Zhiyuan, Johnson, James D., Cobine, Paul A., et al.
Created Date
2015-07-01

Though many animal ornaments and signals are sensitive to and encode information about the oxidative balance (OB) of individuals (e.g., antioxidant supplies/activity, reactive oxygen species, cellular oxidative damage/repair), often the environmental and/or physiological sources of such OB are unknown. Urban development is among the most recent, pervasive, and persistent human stressors on the planet and impacts many environmental and physiological parameters of animals. Here we review the mechanistic underpinnings and functional consequences of how human urbanization drives antioxidant/oxidative status in animals and how this affects signal expression and use. Although we find that urbanization has strong negative effects on signal ...

Contributors
Hutton, Pierce, McGraw, Kevin, Arizona State University. School of Life Sciences
Created Date
2016-05-19

Background Urbanization can strongly impact the physiology, behavior, and fitness of animals. Conditions in cities may also promote the transmission and success of animal parasites and pathogens. However, to date, no studies have examined variation in the prevalence or severity of several distinct pathogens/parasites along a gradient of urbanization in animals or if these infections increase physiological stress in urban populations. Methodology/Principal Findings Here, we measured the prevalence and severity of infection with intestinal coccidians (Isospora sp.) and the canarypox virus (Avipoxvirus) along an urban-to-rural gradient in wild male house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus). In addition, we quantified an important stress ...

Contributors
Giraudeau, Mathieu, Mousel, Melanie, Earl, Stevan, et al.
Created Date
2014-02-04

Sexual selection requires both that there is heritable variation in traits related to fitness, and that either some of this variation is linked to traits of the parents, and/or that there are direct benefits of choosing particular individuals as mates. This suggests that if direct benefits are important offspring performance should be predicted by traits of the rearing adults. But if indirect benefits are more significant offspring performance should be predicted by traits of the adults at the nest-of-origin. We conducted cross-fostering experiments in great tits (Parus major) over four years, in two of which we manipulated environmental conditions by ...

Contributors
Pickett, Simon R. A., Weber, Sam B., McGraw, Kevin, et al.
Created Date
2013-07-30