Do body temperatures of desert lizards fit a “normal” distribution?

Raymond B. Huey and Eric R. Pianka When physiological ecologists evaluate whether body temperatures of lizards and other ectotherms (such as insects, fishes) are “normally distributed,” they are not referring to whether a lizard’s body temperature averages 98.6°F, a so-called “normal” body temperature for a human.   Rather they are discussing whether the shape of the…

Host responses to parasites shape costs of infection

Sarah A. Budischak, Dawn O’Neal, Anna E. Jolles and Vanessa O. Ezenwa Parasites, by definition, steal resources from their hosts, but how infection relates to host fitness is not well understood, particularly in wild populations. We combine experimental deworming and a 4-year study in African buffalo to better quantify fitness costs of infection and examine…

Serology in wildlife: two problems and how to deal with them

Romain Garnier, Raül Ramos, Ana Sanz-Aguilar, Maud Poisbleau, Henri Weimerskirch, Sarah Burthe, Jeremy Tornos, Thierry Boulinier How can we track infectious diseases in wild animal populations? Serology, the quantification of antibodies present in the blood following exposure to a disease agent, is a tool of primary importance. However, the lack of specific reagents for detecting…

Stress in early life can enhance bird song complexity

Loren Merrill, Madeleine F. Naylor, Merria Dalimonte, Sean McLaughlin, Tara E. Stewart, and Jennifer L. Grindstaff Stress in early life can have long-lasting consequences. For instance, when young animals are exposed to stressors like malnourishment or disease, their appearance is often permanently impacted, along with their behaviours and cognitive abilities. Zebra finches are charismatic birds…

Diet drives beak diversification in waterfowl

Aaron M Olsen Bird beaks are often cited as a classic example of evolution by natural selection. Over generations, it is thought that beak shapes that are better suited to eating particular foods will outcompete less favourable beak shapes and be passed on to offspring, through a process known as adaptation. Over time this would…