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Highlights from the latest issue

April 2022 | Vol. 164, issue 2
We’re pleased to deliver the first packed issue of 2022 containing one review paper, 13 full papers, four short communications, two Forum articles plus our regular book reviews.

Here, Editor in Chief, Dominic McCafferty, has selected four of his highlights.

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  • REVIEW ARTICLE | BIOACOUSTICS
    The acoustic playback technique in avian fieldwork contexts: a systematic review and recommendations for best practice
    Alberto De Rosa, Isabel Castro & Stephen Marsland

    Acoustic playback is commonly used to study wild birds. However, to promote reproducibility and comparability a common set of rules for using this technique is needed. Alberto De Rosa, Isabel Castro and Stephen Marsland therefore reviewed over 400 field-studies employing avian playback and found that only 4% made recordings publicly available and less than 1% provided sufficient details for the playback application to be fully reproducible. As a result, De Rosa et al. provide recommendations for the reporting of playback and recommend that acoustic tracks should be provided in online archives that can be easily accessed by other researchers.
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  • ORIGINAL ARTICLE | HUMAN IMPACTS
    Historical avifaunal change and current effects of hiking and road use on avian occupancy in a high-latitude tundra ecosystem
    Avery L. Meeker, John M. Marzluff & Beth Gardner

    Tourism is becoming more common in the tundra but how this activity may influence bird communities is not well known. To address this knowledge gap, Avery Meeker, John Marzluff and Beth Gardner surveyed people with local knowledge of Denali National Park and Preserve, Alsaka and compared this with the results of an occupancy study of 15 bird species in relation to road proximity, traffic volume and hiking. Their interviewees highlighted decreases in American Golden Plover, Arctic Tern, Long-tailed Jaeger and Northern Wheatear over the past 50 years. Interestingly, Meeker et al.’s occupancy modelling also detected no Arctic Terns, few Northern Wheatears, and found both plovers and jaegers to be sensitive to hiking. Occupancy for some species were also found to decrease with increasing hiking intensity. Their study therefore reveals a loss in avian diversity and a shifted baseline syndrome for sensitive tundra-breeding birds. Meeker et al. therefore encourage managers to balance human recreation with the needs of sensitive tundra-breeding birds.
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  • SHORT COMMUNICATION | CLIMATE CHANGE
    Guild-level response to Hurricane Carlotta among birds in a Mexican wetland
    Mateo D. M. Ruiz & José Luis Rangel Salazar

    Climate change has resulted in increasing frequency of severe weather events throughout the World. These events are expected to be detrimental to birds but rarely are they studied in detail. In this unique study, Mateo Ruiz and José Luis Rangel Salazar recorded how Hurricane Carlotta influenced trophic guilds of birds in mangrove and marsh wetlands on the Oaxacan coast of Mexico. Based on point counts Ruiz and Rangel Salazar found that post-hurricane species turnover was marked among terrestrial insectivores in mature mangroves. Turnover was less apparent among mangrove plant-consumers that relied on trophic resources from surrounding ecosystems, and among trophic guilds associated with highly dynamic aquatic systems. These results therefore indicate that the effects of severe weather on species composition may be complex and habitat dependent.
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  • FORUM | SIGNALLING
    Aposematism and mimicry in birds
    Esme Hedley & Tim Caro

    Aposematic signals advertise that an animal is not worth attacking or eating. This has been a subject of great interest for many years, and it was Alfred Russel Wallace who suggested that aposematism may advertise difficulty in subduing prey rather than simply unpalatability. In this Forum article Esme Hedley and Tim Caro discuss the occurrence of aposematism and mimicry in a wide range of birds. They describe several examples of competitive mimicry which also involves resembling larger non-predator species and show there is considerable scope for new ornithological research on this topic.
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    Read more from the lead author on #theBOUblog View

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Image credits
From top:
Speaker CC0 PD Wikimedia Commons
American Golden Plover | Peter Wilton CC BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons
Figure | from paper
Illustration | from paper