2010 Vol. 1, No. 1

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Note
Abstract:
Birds in China
Abstract:
Short Communication
Abstract:

The Chinese Bamboo Partridge (Bambusicola thoracica) is a gamebird endemic to China. Ten polymorphic microsatellite (simple sequence repeat) markers were obtained through cross-species amplification for this partridge from its relative species Gallus gallus. The number of alleles per locus varied from 4 to 13. The observed heterozygosity ranged from 0.1220 to 1.0000 and the expected heterozygosity from 0.1183 to 0.8898. Four microsatellite loci showed significant differences from the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. These polymorphic loci provide a valuable tool for the investigation of the phylogeography and conservation genetics of this partridge.

Abstract:

The Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) was recently categorized as Critically Endangered by the IUCN due to a strong decline and overall range contraction. Until now the only published Chinese record of the species was a vagrant sighting in 1998. We reviewed reports and historic literature from a German ornithological expedition in 1876, which reported the species to be a breeding bird in Xinjiang, western China in the second half of the 19th century. According to local expertise, the species seems since to have become extinct in Xinjiang, but surveys are suggested to clarify its current status.

Original Article
Abstract:

The primer pair sex1/sex2, which can be widely applied for sex identification in Galliform species, was used to determine the sex of 17 Passeriform species. As CHD-W fragments tended to be preferentially amplified, which may cause unnecessary misidentification in bird species with little difference between CHD-Z and CHD-W, we modified sex1 and sex2, obtaining sex1' and sex-mix respectively. Primer sets were then recombined to conduct sex identification. After testing several Passeriforme birds of known sex, we found that the primer pair sex1'/sex2 was better at limiting the preferential amplification of CHD-W fragments. As they are being frequently used in sex allocation study of Aegithalos concinnus and song learning research of Lonchura striata, we can expect more applications of this primer pair to further studies in Passeriformes.

Abstract:

The Daurian Partridge (Perdix dauuricae) is a kind of hunting bird with high economic value. Genetic diversity and structure in the Daurian Partridge were studied by analyzing eight microsatellite loci in 23 populations found throughout the range of the species in China. The objectives were to evaluate the consequences on genetic diversity and differentiation of Daurian Partridge populations and to obtain a profound genetic insight for future management decisions and for effective measures to protect and exploit Daurian Partridges. The results showed that microsatellites were polymorphic in all Daurian Partridge populations, with a high level of genetic diversity over all the loci, especially in the Qaidam Basin populations which have the highest level of diversity. Significant genetic divergence was observed among different groups as well as between populations within the same group; most pairwise FST values were highly significant. Both phylogenetic trees and Bayesian clustering analyses revealed clear differentiation among the 23 populations of the Daurian Partridge, which were classified into two genetically differentiated groups. A bottleneck analysis indicated that Daurian Partridge populations have experienced a recent bottleneck. Our study argues that the Qaidam populations, North China populations, JN population, ZJC population, and Liupan Mountain populations should be paid special attention in order to retain adequate population sizes for maintaining genetic diversity.

Abstract:

The winter diet and morphological structure of the gastrointestinal tract of the Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) was investigated in the Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi Province in 2002/2003. Individual food items in crops were identified by species, where possible, using standard taxonomic methods. The Golden Pheasant consumes exclusively vegetarian foods in the winter, of at least 14 plant species, such as crops and other vegetable species. The digestive tract of the Golden Pheasant is composed of an oesophagus, a stomach, a relatively long intestine measuring 3.4×standard body length, two fully-developed caeca and a relatively short colon, typical for herbivorous birds. Pebbles of different sizes (0.5-3 mm in diameter) were very frequent in the gizzard. The average dry weight of the pebbles was 10.4±2.5 g and was positively correlated with the weight of digesta in the gizzard (Pearson r=0.747, p < 0.01, n=37). The mucosa surface pH of the digestive tract of the Golden Pheasant was slightly acidic, but higher in the crop and gizzard.

Abstract:

Fisher's theory predicts equal sex ratios at the end of parental care if the cost associated with raising offspring of each sex is equal. However, sex ratios have important evolutionary consequences and are often biased for many factors. Reported sex ratios are often biased in raptors, which display various degrees of reversed sexual dimorphism, but there seems no consistent pattern in their offspring sex ratios. In this study, we investigated the offspring sex ratio of the Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and tested whether the patterns of biased sex ratios were related to laying order, egg mass, hatching order, laying date or clutch size. The brood sex ratio of the Eurasian Kestrel (male) in eggs was 47.0%, not statistically biased from 0.5, but in fledglings it was 40.8%, significantly biased from 0.5 (p=0.029). At population level, both primary and secondary sex ratios did not depart from parity. We found that clutch size and egg mass affected the secondary brood sex ratio, i.e., the larger the clutch size, the larger the number of males and eggs producing sons were heavier than eggs producing daughters. Laying date affected both the primary and secondary sex ratios, and laying earlier is associated with a greater proportion of males.

Abstract:

We investigated the water-crossing behavior of Western Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus), mostly adults, and European Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus), mostly juveniles, in relation to wind conditions, time of the day, flocking and age classes, at a watchsite in central Italy during the autumn migration en route to Africa. Although European Honey Buzzards are less suited than Western Marsh Harriers to undertake long sea crossings, they were more inclined to leave the coast when migrating in flocks. Few birds of both species chose to fly along the coast. Western Marsh Harriers, such as European Honey Buzzards migrating alone, undertook the water crossing rather than stopping migration (birds roosting at the site or flying back inland) during the absence of wind and vice versa during head winds. Conversely, European Honey Buzzards migrating in flocks were not affected in their decision (crossing or stopping migration) by wind direction. Both species undertook the water crossing rather than stopping migration during mornings and vice versa during afternoons. Finally, in both species, adults and juveniles showed the same behavior in front of a water barrier. This result was expected in the case of the Western Marsh Harrier but not from the European Honey Buzzard since, in this species, the water-crossing tendency is age dependent with adults avoiding sea crossings. Our study confirms that flocking significantly affects the water-crossing behavior of European Honey Buzzards during migration. Moreover, in this species, inexperience of juveniles and presumably younger adults, about the high energetic costs of long powered flight and about the existence of shorter routes over water, might explain the strong water-crossing tendency shown by migrants independently from their age.

Abstract:

The social organization of marked Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) was studied in the Krugersdorp Game Reserve (Gauteng Province, South Africa) during March 1982 to February 1984. Flock members (7-10 guineafowl) did not associate randomly. Helmeted Guineafowl must live in a sociable flock to survive in the wild. The highest ranking male (male A) formed the pivot of the daily activities of the flock, such as determining foraging direction. High ranking males (males A and B) associated closely to repulse conspecific intruders. Breeding females associated more often with the high ranking males during the breeding season. Although a pecking order was established among males, the frequency of agonistic actions within the flock was very low, which suggests that agonistic interactions are limited to maintain cohesion. Adult females remained between the dominant male and the juveniles to minimize victimization. The second highest ranking male (B) took center stage while the dominant male and his female left temporarily to breed and then the rest of the flock clustered around him to maintain the cohesive nature of the flock. Most adults assisted with the brooding of the chicks of the highest ranking male. Flocking is, among other functions, a predator surveillance strategy that enables the Helmeted Guineafowl to forage under conditions with very limited ground cover and to maximize food finding during winter.

Abstract:

Foraging ecology of the globally endangered Nilgiri Wood Pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) was investigated in the Western Ghats,India,using faecal sampling and direct observations. The birds fed on fruits of 39 plant species,on seeds of 11 species,flowers and leaf buds of four species and a few ground invertebrates. Direct observations across seasons showed nine plant species were selected more often (47% of observations),with fruits of the members of the family Lauraceae the most preferred. Gleaning accounted for 76% of feeding methods throughout the year. Feeding was mainly from twigs at the edges on the upper and middle canopy (> 6 m). Frequency of feeding on fruits correlated significantly with fruit abundance,which depended on rainfall. The present study indicates that the pigeon requires a wide variety of diets from different forest environments. Conservation of this species depends on preserving all habitat types required to meet their resource needs throughout the year.

Abstract:

Given the rapid rise in human population and increasing urbanization,it is important to understand their potential impacts on biodiversity. From March 2007 to August 2007, we conducted bird surveys in 90 strip transects,each 3 km long and 100 m wide,along a gradient of urbanization in Hangzhou,China. This gradient spanned a range of urbanization levels including urban areas,rural-urban continuum areas,farming areas,mixed forest/farming areas and forested areas. We recorded 96 breeding bird species and classified them into nine functional groups based on nesting requirements. The nine functional groups consisted of canopy nesters,shrub nesters,canopy/shrub nesters,natural cavity nesters,building nesters,natural cavity/building nesters,ground nesters,water surface nesters and parasitic nesters. Species and functional diversities were estimated based on the Shannon-Wiener index. Environmental data of each transect as human disturbance,vegetation cover and building index were also measured,and a synthetic urbanization index of each transect was introduced based on these data. We used regression analyses to model the relationship of species abundance,species diversity,functional abundance and functional diversity with this synthetic index. The results show that urbanization significantly reduces species richness,species diversity,functional richness and functional diversity,but the specific patterns differed. The relationship between species abundance/species diversity and urbanization is linear. In contrast,the relationship between functional diversity and urbanization was quadratic. In other words,with increased urbanization,functional diversity declined only slightly at first but then dropped at an accelerating rate. This implies that,although moderate urbanization reduces species diversity of breeding birds,it affects functional diversity of breeding birds only slightly in Hangzhou. The regression analysis of species diversity and functional diversity suggests a quadratic relationship between species diversity and functional diversity,i.e.,a linear relationship between species diversity and functional diversity can only exist at low diversity levels across urbanization gradients and increasing species abundance does not lead to an increase in functional diversity at the highest diversity levels.