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  • Author: Miklós Laczi x
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The cranial morphometrics of the wildfowl (Anatidae)

Abstract

Wildfowl (Anatidae) are a diverse group of birds and globally distributed. These birds feed by widely varying methods, there are generalist and specialist species. In a number of vertebrate taxa trophic specializations have led to distinct differences in the morphology of the skull, like in birds. Our knowledge and understanding of the relationship between cranial morphology and feeding mechanism of wildfowl are limited. The aim of this article is to increase our knowledge of the relationship between skull shape and foraging habits and find the identifiable attributes of the differently adapted groups. We used morphometric methods with 7 linear measurements of the skull. We used principal component (PC) analysis to identify the groups with different foraging habits. The PCs were related to measurements which represent the demanded muscle mass for feeding and the amount of capable food items. The grazers have a narrower bill and bigger bone surface which requires more muscle tissue than the broad billed filter-feeders. We observed the structural and functional differences between grazers and filter-feeders. There are no important differences in the bill measurements between omnivore dabbling and diving ducks. Only the bill is not enough to deduce the foraging habits.

Open access
Analysis of skull morphometric characters in diurnal raptors (Accipitriformes and Falconiformes)

Abstract

Diurnal birds of prey (Accipitriformes and Falconiformes) has traditionally been known as comprising a single order. Recently, this classification has been used in the non-taxonomic sense as referring to a convergent group of birds that are largely classified as predatory birds. Although these birds are similar in their morphology, the species differ in their foraging methods and prey preference. The cranial shape and the physical attributes determine the efficiency of the resource use. The aim of this study is to increase our knowledge of the relationship between skull shape, prey preference, and foraging habits. A geometric morphometric approach was used to analyse two-dimensional cranial landmarks. We used principal component (PC) analyses on measurements that may be related to prey preference and foraging habits. The PCs are resulted described the relative height of the skull and beak, the variation in the relative size, the orientation and robustness of the lacrimal bone, the variation in the relative size of the neurocranium compared to the viscerocranium, and the orientation of the palatine bone. The dietary categories significantly overlap. The skull morphology reflects more on foraging habits than diet or prey preference.

Open access
Analysis of skull morphometric characters in Owls (Strigiformes)

Abstract

Owls (Strigiformes) are small to large birds, mostly solitary and nocturnal predators. They can be found all around the Earth except Antarctica and some remote islands. The species differ in size, diet and habitat, which led to different morphological adaptations of the skull. The main differences are in the orbital and the otical region, which are connected to the visual and hearing capabilities. The aim of the recent study is to increase our knowledge of the relationship between skull shape and foraging habits and tried to find those characters that are related to diet. A geometric morphometric approach was used to analyse two-dimensional cranial landmarks. We used principal component (PC) analyses on measurements that may be related to visual and hearing abilities. The PCs are resulted in the robusticity of the skull and the asymmetry of the otical region. There are differences in position and shape of postorbital processes (POP) and tympanic wings (TW). Species with symmetrical skull shape are basically crepuscular or diurnal predators and species with more asymmetrical skulls are mostly nocturnal hunters and have better hearing capabilities.

Open access
Sources of variation in haematocrit in the Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis)

Abstract

The haematocrit rate of the blood shows the individual physiological state. As the haematocrit grows, the higher erythrocyte number results in more efficient oxygen uptake capacity which can lead to better performance and probably a better survival rate of an individual. Hence we assume that the high value of haematocrit reflects good health state. Altogether 308 blood samples were collected from a wild population of Collared Flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) in two breeding stages during a period of 2008-2010. We tried to elucidate the relationship between condition and haematocrit level of an individual and studied the haematocrit changes of an individual between years. The haematocrit values differed between years. Females had higher haematocrit values than males in 2010 but not in 2009. At courtship the haematocrit level of males was higher, than during nestling care. The different environmental effects and energy demands of the individuals may be the driving force behind the observed changes in haematocrit level. Analysing the changes between two years, there was a positive correlation between changes in condition index and haematocrit of individuals. The haematocrit values of an individual were repeatable between years. This finding suggests that haematocrit can be informative about the individual’s general health state.

Open access
Behavioural responses to handling stress in the Great Tit: within-individual consistency and the effect of age, sex and body condition

Abstract

In birds, individuals may show different behavioural and physiological responses when handling, and such variation may be related to individual differences in antipredator strategies. We performed a pilot study in both breeding and wintering populations of the Great Tit (Parus major), and we characterised three typical behavioural traits during a standard ringing procedure in captured birds. We assessed between- individual variations in breath rate, pecking rate and the number of distress calls displayed in response to handling, and also calculated the within-individual variation of these traits by repeated behavioural measurements. We found that these behaviours were consistently displayed within individuals (with repeatability varying between 0.44 and 0.82), and there was also some modest correlation between them (e.g. breath rate covaried with the number of distress calls). Furthermore, using multivariate linear models assessing a role of some potential predictors we found that a considerable amount of between-individual variation can be explained by sex and age differences and also by variation in body condition. However, the magnitude and direction of these relationships was inconsistent across seasons. Our results are in line with previous findings that several consistent behavioural traits measured during human handling could reflect individual specific antipredator strategy, but some confounding effects cannot be ruled out. Hence, our preliminary results require careful interpretation, and further studies are needed to assess the exact magnitude by which different behavioural traits are inter-related

Open access