Looking back on 2012


This post provides an abstract of what we achieved in 2012 both within and out of the scope of our running CNCSIS grant (#TE 291/2010).

The year 2012 was quite good compared to our Evolutionary Ecology Group’s balance in previous years. We published two papers (Journal of Avian Biology and PLoS ONE) and have three papers accepted for publication (Journal of Parasitology, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society and Naturwissenschaften). We showed that (i) feather mites are best described as commensals of their avian hosts (Galván et al. 2012 J Avian Biol 43: 273–279), (ii) moult rate and feather quality are traded-off in house sparrows, especially in case of lower-quality birds (Vágási et al. 2012 PLoS ONE 7: e40651), (iii) among three phthirapteran lice species infesting house sparrows, the most prevalent one has the more egalitarian sex ratio and the least pronounced female-biased sexual size dimorphism (Pap et al. 2013 J Parasitol in press), (iv) coccidian infestation has both short- and long-term adverse effects on flight feather quality of house sparrows (Pap et al. 2013 Biol J Linn Soc in press), and (v) the absence of the uropygial gland, and thus blocked access to preen oils, did not result in increased feather-degrading bacteria load, but to increased other cultivable bacteria load on the plumage of house sparrows (Czirják et al. 2013 Naturwissenschaften in press). We have also submitted for review a manuscript in Journal of Evolutionary Biology dealing with the physiological, morphological and behavioural underpinnings of predator escape by prey. We have also raw data or partially analysed data from 8 different studies (4 experimental, 2 correlative, 3 comparative), which we plan to at least in part finalize this year. These studies range from physiology (immune investment, oxidative stress, corticosterone stress response) and morphology (feather quality, sexual signals) till behaviour (cognitive ability) and their potentially coupled evolutionary path.

So, we trust to attain at least a similar sabbatical in 2013.

The above results would have not been possible to reach without the altruistic help of a large number of undergrad and master students recruited in our Evolutionary Ecology Group at the University of Babeş-Bolyai, Cluj Napoca, Romania. Thank you again!

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