Interesting Wildlife Articles

Some interesting studies related to marine bird health issues have surfaced over the past several weeks as reported by Science Daily – many of which have direct relevance to oiled wildlife care issues:

  • Baltic Herring GullBird Population Declines In Northern Europe Explained By Thiamine (vitamin B1) Deficiency (Science Daily, 14 Jul 2009) – Wild birds of several species are dying in large numbers from a paralytic disease with hitherto unknown cause in the Baltic Sea area. A research team at Stockholm University, Sweden, led by Associate Professor Lennart Balk, has demonstrated strong relationships between this disease, breeding failure, and advanced thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency in eggs, young, and adults. The authors’ primary aim has been to demonstrate the relationship between the paralytic disease and thiamine deficiency. Also important has been to form an idea about the geographical distribution of the thiamine deficiency syndrome and its distribution among species. Advanced thiamine deficiency was demonstrated in the Baltic Sea area, but incipient thiamine deficiency was found also in Iceland. Cited Journal Article = Balk et al., Wild birds of declining European species are dying from a thiamine deficiency syndrome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Little AuksEnergetic Bottleneck Factors In Catastrophic Winter Seabird Losses (Science Daily – 17 Jul 2009) – It’s a terrible sight: hundreds of dead seabirds washed up on the seashore. These catastrophic events occur in the winter and are known as winter wrecks. No one knows why the birds perish, and it is almost impossible to study the animals out in stormy winter seas to find out how they meet their fate. With the birds’ tough life style in mind, Jérôme Fort and David Grémillet from the CNRS Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive in France decided to try to estimate the energetic demands placed on two alcid species (little auks and Brünnich’s guillemots) by their aquatic lifestyle to find out whether battling the harsh conditions may simply be too energetically demanding for the little seafarers. Fort and his colleagues publish their discovery that winter wreck victims may not be able to eat enough to survive the harsh winter conditions in the Journal of Experimental Biology. Cited Journal Article = Fort, J., Porter, W. P. and Grémillet, D. Thermodynamic modelling predicts energetic bottleneck for seabirds wintering in the northwest Atlantic. J. Exp. Biol., 212, 2483-2490.

– Mike

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