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…

How specialized is a diet specialist? Not as specialized as you might think.

Rebecca C. Terry, Megan E. Guerre, David S. Taylor How species respond to environmental change is shaped in part by what they eat.  Dietary specialists consume a narrow range of resources, often exhibiting morphological and behavioral adaptations to their diet resulting in reduced niche flexibility.  Thus ongoing environmental change can place dietary specialists at particularly…

How sea snakes partition energy within coastal environments

Vinay Udyawer, Colin A. Simpfendorfer, Michelle R. Heupel, Timothy D. Clark   Resources within a given environment (e.g. shelter, prey) are often not the same between different habitats. Therefore how animals move and select habitats within their environment tend to incorporate strategies to maximise the benefits they gain from different habitats while minimising the amount…

Benefits of thermal tolerance plasticity

Alex R. Gunderson, Michael E. Dillon and Jonathon H. Stillman It has long been known that animals can physiologically adjust to changing temperatures (without evolutionary change), a process known as “thermal acclimation.” It is generally assumed that thermal acclimation is beneficial, but it has proven difficult to empirically demonstrate the benefits, if they exist, under…