Identification of a novel mycoplasma species from an Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis).
An intracellular organism was isolated from the tissues of an Oriental white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis) in chicken embryo fibroblast cell cultures. Biochemical and physical properties, ultrastructural features, and 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing classified this organism as a new taxon of mycoplasma, for which the name "Mycoplasma vulturii" is proposed. (+info)
Diclofenac poisoning is widespread in declining vulture populations across the Indian subcontinent.
Recent declines in the populations of three species of vultures in the Indian subcontinent are among the most rapid ever recorded in any bird species. Evidence from a previous study of one of these species, Gyps bengalensis, in the Punjab province of Pakistan, strongly implicates mortality caused by ingestion of residues of the veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac as the major cause of the decline. We show that a high proportion of Gyps bengalensis and G. indicus found dead or dying in a much larger area of India and Nepal also have residues of diclofenac and visceral gout, a post-mortem finding that is strongly associated with diclofenac contamination in both species. Hence, veterinary use of diclofenac is likely to have been the major cause of the rapid vulture population declines across the subcontinent. (+info)
Allometry of alarm calls: black-capped chickadees encode information about predator size.
Many animals produce alarm signals when they detect a potential predator, but we still know little about the information contained in these signals. Using presentations of 15 species of live predators, we show that acoustic features of the mobbing calls of black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapilla) vary with the size of the predator. Companion playback experiments revealed that chickadees detect this information and that the intensity of mobbing behavior is related to the size and threat of the potential predator. This study demonstrates an unsuspected level of complexity and sophistication in avian alarm calls. (+info)
Characterization of a new species of adenovirus in falcons.
In 1996, a disease outbreak occurred at a captive breeding facility in Idaho, causing anorexia, dehydration, and diarrhea or sudden death in 72 of 110 Northern aplomado falcons (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) from 9 to 35 days of age and in 6 of 102 peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) from 14 to 25 days of age. Sixty-two Northern aplomado and six peregrine falcons died. Epidemiologic analyses indicated a point source epizootic, horizontal transmission, and increased relative risk associated with cross-species brooding of eggs. Primary lesions in affected birds were inclusion body hepatitis, splenomegaly, and enteritis. The etiology in all mortalities was determined by molecular analyses to be a new species of adenovirus distantly related to the group I avian viruses, serotypes 1 and 4, Aviadenovirus. In situ hybridization and PCR demonstrated that the virus was epitheliotropic and lymphotropic and that infection was systemic in the majority of animals. Adeno-associated virus was also detected by PCR in most affected falcons, but no other infectious agents or predisposing factors were found in any birds. Subsequent to the 1996 epizootic, a similar disease caused by the same adenovirus was found over a 5-year period in orange-breasted falcons (Falco deiroleucus), teita falcons (Falco fasciinucha), a merlin (Falco columbarius), a Vanuatu peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus nesiotes), and gyrfalcon x peregrine falcon hybrids (Falco rusticolus/peregrinus) that died in Wyoming, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and California. These findings indicate that this newly recognized adenovirus is widespread in western and midwestern North America and can be a primary pathogen in different falcon species. (+info)
Isolation and epidemiology of falcon adenovirus.
An adenovirus was detected by electron microscopy in tissues from falcons that died during an outbreak of inclusion body hepatitis and enteritis that affected neonatal Northern aplomado (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) and peregrine (Falco peregrinus anatum) falcons. Molecular characterization has identified the falcon virus as a new member of the aviadenovirus group (M. Schrenzel, J. L. Oaks, D. Rotstein, G. Maalouf, E. Snook, C. Sandfort, and B. Rideout, J. Clin. Microbiol. 43:3402-3413, 2005). In this study, the virus was successfully isolated and propagated in peregrine falcon embryo fibroblasts, in which it caused visible and reproducible cytopathology. Testing for serum neutralizing antibodies found that infection with this virus was limited almost exclusively to falcons. Serology also found that wild and captive peregrine falcons had high seropositivity rates of 80% and 100%, respectively, although clinical disease was rarely reported in this species. These data implicate peregrine falcons as the natural host and primary reservoir for the virus. Other species of North American falcons, including aplomado falcons, had lower seropositivity rates of 43 to 57%. Falcon species of tropical and/or island origin were uniformly seronegative, although deaths among adults of these species have been described, suggesting they are highly susceptible. Chickens and quail were uniformly seronegative and not susceptible to infection, indicating that fowl were not the source of infection. Based on the information from this study, the primary control of falcon adenovirus infections should be based on segregation of carrier and susceptible falcon species. (+info)
Prioritizing species conservation: does the Cape Verde kite exist?
The Cape Verde kite (Milvus milvus fasciicauda) is considered to be one of the rarest birds of prey in the world and at significant risk of extinction. For this reason there is great interest in both the taxonomic and the population status of this group. To help resolve its taxonomic status, we provide phylogenetic analyses based on three mitochondrial genes for a sampling of kites in the genus Milvus, including a broad geographical sampling of black kites (Milvus migrans), red kites (Milvus milvus), Cape Verde kite museum specimens collected between 1897 and 1924, and five kites trapped on the Cape Verde Islands during August 2002. We found that the historical Cape Verde kites, including the type specimen, were non-monophyletic and scattered within a larger red kite clade. The recently trapped kites from the Cape Verde Islands were all phylogenetically diagnosed as black kites. Our findings suggest that the traditional Cape Verde kite is not a distinctive evolutionary unit, and the case for species status, as recently suggested by others, is not supported. We do find support for recognition of at least one clade of yellow-billed kites, traditionally considered as a black kite subspecies, as a distinctive phylogenetic species. (+info)
Semen characteristics of the captive Indian white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis).
The present paper describes, to our knowledge for the first time, the successful collection and evaluation of semen from the Indian white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis), a critically endangered bird. Over a period of 2 yr, semen was collected using the manual massage method and evaluated for semen volume, semen pH, sperm concentration, percentage normal/abnormal spermatozoa, and percentage motile spermatozoa. It appears that the concentration of spermatozoa and percentage motile spermatozoa in the Indian white-backed vultures are low compared to those in other birds. Tyrode medium supplemented with albumin, lactate, and pyruvate (TALP) proved to be the best semen extender compared to two others (Beltsville Poultry Semen Extender and Lake diluent). Furthermore, TALP with 20% egg yolk and supplemented with 8% dimethyl sulfoxide maintained 50% of the initial percentage of motile spermatozoa following cryopreservation and thawing. A computer-aided semen analysis indicated that the spermatozoa of the Indian white-backed vulture are extremely active and swim in linear trajectories for up to 5 h following dilution in TALP. The trajectories were linear with time, but we noticed a decrease in the velocity parameters (average path velocity, curvilinear velocity, and progressive velocity). Thus, the present study provides baseline data on semen characteristics of the highly endangered Indian white-backed vulture, and these data could be of immense importance to reproductive and conservation biologists attempting to breed these animals in captivity, which to date has not been achieved. (+info)
Exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs): changes in thyroid, vitamin A, glutathione homeostasis, and oxidative stress in American kestrels (Falco sparverius).
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a class of additive flame retardants, are temporally increasing in wildlife tissues and capable of disrupting normal endocrine function. We determined whether in ovo and post-hatch exposure of captive American kestrels (Falco sparverius) to environmentally relevant PBDEs alter thyroid, retinol, and oxidative stress measures. Control eggs were injected with safflower oil and subsequent nestlings fed the same vehicle; dosed eggs received PBDE congeners (BDE-47, -99, -100, -153), which mainly comprise the Penta-BDE commercial mixture, dissolved in safflower oil at concentrations (1500 ng/g total [Sigma] PBDEs) approximating those in Great Lakes gull eggs. Nestlings hatching from dosed eggs were orally exposed for 29 days to variable SigmaPBDE concentrations that are similar to levels reported in tissues of Great Lakes trout (100 ng/g). Treatment kestrels had lower plasma thyroxine (T(4)), plasma retinol, and hepatic retinol and retinyl palmitate concentrations, but unaltered triiodothyronine (T(3)) concentrations and thyroid glandular structure. BDE-47, -100, and -99 were negatively associated with plasma T(4), plasma retinol (BDE-100, -99) and hepatic retinol (BDE-47). Despite an antioxidant-rich diet, PBDE exposure induced hepatic oxidative stress, particularly in females, with an increased hepatic GSSG:GSH ratio, a marginal increase in lipid peroxidation, and increased oxidized glutathione. Positive associations were found between concentrations of BDE-183 and thiols and, in males, between BDE-99 and reduced GSH, but a negative association occurred between BDE-99 and TBARS. Subsequently, concentrations of PBDE congeners in wild birds may alter thyroid hormone and vitamin A concentrations, glutathione metabolism and oxidative stress. (+info)