Spotted Eggshells May Indicate Sickly Mothers in Great Tits

   The many colors and patterns of bird eggs can provide camouflage and help parents tell their own eggs apart from those of invaders, but a forthcoming study in The Auk: Ornithological Advances suggests another function for eggshell patterns—they can provide information about the health of the mother. The researchers behind the new study found that the patterns of reddish-brown spots on the white eggs of Great Tits reflect the quality and health of the mother bird, with sicker, duller mothers laying eggs patterned with darker spots.

The way to learn

   A well-known songbird, the great tit, has revealed its genetic code, offering researchers new insight into how species adapt to a changing planet. Their initial findings suggest that epigenetics — what’s on rather than what’s in the gene — may play a key role in the evolution of memory and learning. And that’s not just true for birds. An international research team led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) and Wageningen University will publish these findings in Nature Communications on Monday.

Balázs Rosivall was honoured for his outstanding supervisory activity by the 2014 "Juhász-Nagy Pál" award of Institute of Biology, Eötvös Loránd University.

Two behavioural ecologists are among the Winners of the Momentum (From Brain Drain to Brain Gain) Program of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS) in 2012

In this year the Momentum Program of HAS gives a chance to Zoltán Bartha, a behavioural ecologist at the University of Debrecen to establish a new research team to study the evolutionary consequences of individuality on sociality.

Further details

One of the youngest winners of Momentum Program in 2012 is Attila Hettyey.He is planning to investigate phenotypic plasticity in chemical defences of vertebrates. This is a new research line in the Centre of Agricultural Research of HAS, where Attila is putting up his new research group.

Further details

17th European Congress of Herpetology – Veszprém, Hungary, 22-27 August 2013

26th International Ornithological Congress will be held from 18th to 24th August 2014 in Japan

Bite the birds

Malaria among birds is becoming more prevalent

   MOSQUITOES, which carry malaria parasites, like the warm and wet conditions that are expected to become more common with climate change. This has led many to reason that malarial infections will increase. Yet studies run into the unreliability of modelling future climatic effects and sometimes ignore changes in land use and health care. However, a new analysis of the spread of avian malaria shows that for the birds, at least, there is a real worry.

Shy animals skew population estimates

   Ecologists may be underestimating species population numbers because only bolder animals are caught in their traps.

    At a field site near Budapest, László Garamszegi, now at the Doñana Biological Station in Seville, and his colleagues placed caged female collared flycatchers on unoccupied nest boxes that had a male bird in attendance...

Oh, he’s such a lab bird /2009.05.06/

Tests in wild birds suggest those with brash personalities are more likely to end up in the lab studies

By Susan Milius, May 9th, 2009; Vol.175 #10 (p. 8)

Who dares sings and who sings wins: Bold birds get the girl

   Humans often choose partners based on behavioural keys that are displayed during social interactions. The way we behave in different social contexts can reflect personality traits or temperament that may inspire long-term love. Behavioural norms that we perceive as sexually attractive are not culturally or evolutionarily arbitrary. However, personality-mediated sexual selection is not just the privilege of mankind. In a study published in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE on July 9, László Garamszegiand colleagues at the University of Antwerp and at Eötvös University, Budapest used bird song as a model to investigate whether behavioural traits involved in sexual advertisement can serve as good indicators of personality in wild animals.

Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 - 19:35 in Psychology & Sociology.

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