Using common scents: chemosignaling with symbiotic microbes in songbirds Event as iCalendar

05 June 2018

1:30 - 2:30pm

Venue: Mac 1, Biology Building

Location: 5 Symonds Street, Auckland Central

Host: SBS

Dr Danielle Whittaker

Speaker: Dr Danielle Whittaker, BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, Michigan State University, USA

Smell has been called the most ancient sense, and songbirds are no exception in their use of it. Preen oil, secreted by the avian uropygial gland, gives off volatile compounds that are important in reproductive behaviour, contributing to the recognition and assessment of mates and rivals. Recent evidence suggests that these volatile compounds are the products of symbiotic microbes. The composition of microbial communities associated with the uropygial gland is strongly affected by social behaviour, as physical contact results in microbe sharing, and these odors may be socially mediated.

In this seminar, Dr Danielle Whittaker will discuss the implications of this plasticity for population differentiation and reproductive isolation in the dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) subspecies complex.