Nest plasticity in response to temperature

Lost in the flurry of trying to get other manuscripts out this year, I forgot to mention we had a new publication out earlier this year.

When breeding birds at two different temperatures for a study I started noticing drastic differences in nest structure based on temperature, so I saved the first nests these birds build (before raising chicks in them) when they were breeding at the different temperatures.

These nest sat around for too long in a box – as we had student volunteers come in that were interested in small projects, but of course favoured doing hands on work with live birds over picking apart dusty nest. That was until Bridget Campbell! She toughed out the dusty tedious work of pulling apart the nests of their component parts and was rewarded with a nice first author publication! It was great working with someone with the interest to see a project all the way through, take efforts to do the data analysis and writing up the first draft of the paper. These are the kind of volunteers we all dream of!


Nest built at 18ºC


Nest built at 30ºC

Heatwaves could mean bad news for male birds

Early press on my paper (and a link to the paper) that came from the last PhD project. Many thanks to Callum McDiarmid for his assist in sample collection and his hard work with Chris Friesen to get the bird sperm videos working on their CASA (computer assisted sperm analysis) system, and Melissah Rowe for the long nights (well her mornings) working stats analysis and to her and Simon Griffith for getting the paper across the line. 

I was also requested to write up a Nature Research Ecology and Evolution Community – ‘Behind the Paper’ piece

Heat Single LLHurley

Wild zebra finch trying to keep cool in 42°C heat during the breeding season at Fowler’s Gap, NSW, Australia. Photo by LLHurley.

Publications Publications

My PhD work was pretty intensive on the data collection, so my papers will be coming out — hopefully — in due course at pretty regular intervals (My first thesis chapter will be coming out in 23 August! Stay Tuned!).

In the mean time I have been a part of several great collaborations over the past few years, which have been going to press this year.

  1. Griffith SC, Crino OL, et al. 2017. Variation in reproductive success across captive populations: Methodological differences, potential biases and opportunities. Ethology. 123(1):1-29.
  2. Crino OL, Buchanan KL, Fanson BG, Hurley LL, Smiley KO, Griffith SC. 2017. Divorce in the socially monogamous zebra finch: Hormonal mechanisms and reproductive consequences. Hormones and Behavior. 87:155-63.
  3. Kim K-W, Bennison C, Hemmings, Brookes L, Hurley LL, Griffith SC., Burke T, Birkhead TR, Slate, J. 2017. A sex-linked supergene controls sperm morphology and swimming speed in a songbird. Nature Ecology & Evolution. Online 17 July.

Some news coverage on the last paper: