ISSN / EISSN : 0004-8038 / 1938-4254
Published by: Oxford University Press (OUP) (10.1093)
Total articles ≅ 24,515
Latest articles in this journal
C. Stuart Houston, a physician who also made major contributions in two other disciplines, ornithology and Canadian history, died July 22, 2021 in Saskatchewan, Canada, at the age of 94. He joined the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) in 1943 and was an Elective Member (1959), Fellow (1989), and Life Member of the society. He also served for over 20 years as the In Memoriam Editor of The Auk. He received the Marion Jenkinson Service Award from the AOU in 2004.
Robert (Bob) Leberman, a self-educated ornithologist who began the bird-banding program at Powdermill Nature Reserve, passed away peacefully at his home on March 10, 2020. He had fought a courageous 6-year-long battle with leiomyosarcoma, a rare “soft tissue” cancer that had necessitated an above-the-knee amputation of his left leg. He was an Elective Member (1994) of the American Ornithological Society (AOS).
One hundred fifty-six general notes were published in The Auk in 1922. Of those, 67% concerned distribution, with most sightings accompanied by notes. Another13 reports were on migration, range expansions, and irruptions. Reports from east of the Mississippi predominated (113) compared to those from the west (32). There was a handful from outside the United States: Canada (6), Europe (3), and Australia (1). Reports concerning behavior included subjects of nesting (10), vocalizing (8), foraging (5), roosting (1), swimming (1), and an earnest report by George Bird Grinnell of an encounter where he was confident he saw an American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), flying away carrying one of its young (39:563–564). Although the descriptions pointed to leucism, there were 3 reports of albinism, and reports on systematics had declined (3). Earlier work banding birds had led to a short and charming note titled Bird Banding As an Opportunity To Study Character and Disposition by William J. Lyon (1874–1938), one of the pioneers in bird banding. He wrote of the individual birds he had come to know, ending with:
Dale Zimmerman, a professionally trained botanist who also made significant contributions to ornithology, died November 10, 2021. He was a long-time faculty member in the Department of Natural Sciences at Western New Mexico University (WNMU) in Silver City, but in seven consecutive decades from the 1950s to the 2010s, he traveled the globe studying the flora and avifauna on all seven continents. He received the Ludlow Griscom Award from the American Birding Association in 2015 for his contributions to ornithology. He was also an Elective Member (1958) and Fellow (1999) of the American Ornithological Society (AOS).
The radiation of so-called “great speciators” represents a paradox among the myriad of avian radiations endemic to the southwest Pacific. In such radiations, lineages otherwise capable of dispersing across vast distances of open ocean differentiate rapidly and frequently across relatively short geographic barriers. Here, we evaluate the phylogeography of the Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons). Although a presumed “great-speciator”, no formal investigations across its range have been performed. Moreover, delimitation of lineages within R. rufifrons, and the biogeographic implications of those relationships, remain unresolved. To investigate whether R. rufifrons represents a great speciator we identified thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms for 89 individuals, representing 19 described taxa. Analyses recovered 7 divergent lineages and evidence of gene flow between geographically isolated populations. We also found plumage differences to be a poor proxy for evolutionary relationships. Given the relatively recent divergence dates for the clade (1.35–2.31 mya), rapid phenotypic differentiation, and evidence for multiple independent lineages within the species complex, we determine that R. rufifrons possesses the characteristics of a great speciator.
Mortality rates are high for most avian species during early life stages, forming a critical source of natural selection that helps shape the diversity of avian life-history traits. We investigated hatching failure (i.e., non-predatory embryonic mortality, excluding abandoned or damaged eggs) and found significant variation among passerine species. Failure rates ranged from 1.0% to 12.7%, and species with cavity nests and larger clutches experienced greater rates of hatching failure. While past research has focused on the direct effects of predation on the nestling and fledgling stages, little is known about how predation may indirectly influence other sources of mortality such as hatching failure. We investigated the influence of nest predation risk and other factors on variation in hatching failure among 14 free-living grassland and shrubland songbird species. Across all species, 7.7% of 1,667 eggs failed to hatch. We found little evidence that variation in nest temperature influenced rates of hatching failure within and among species, although species with larger clutch sizes had more variable nest temperatures. Dissection of failed eggs revealed that most hatching failures occurred before or shortly after the onset of development; however, there was no difference between cavity and open-cup nesters in the rate of early-stage mortality. Our findings suggest there may be tradeoffs to having a large clutch, with a benefit of rearing more young at the cost of greater hatching failure, possibly due to delayed onset of incubation, poor incubation behavior, or inability to incubate large clutches. Additionally, as larger clutches are often laid in cavity nests, which have a relatively low predation risk, this may outweigh the costs of increased hatching failure. More experimental approaches, such as clutch size manipulations and egg-specific incubation behavior are needed to provide greater insight into factors driving variation in hatching failure across species.
Amelia-Juliette Demery The Florence Merriam Bailey Award, named for the first woman “associate” of the AOU (1885) and the first woman elected as a Fellow of the AOU (1929), recognizes an outstanding article published in Ornithology or in Ornithological Applications by an early-career AOS member. This year’s award is presented to Amelia-Juliette Demery, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate, Sloan Scholar, Women Leader in Sustainability Fellow at Cornell University, and lead author of the paper, “Bill size, bill shape, and body size constrain bird song evolution on a macroevolutionary scale,” with co-authors Kevin J. Burns and Nicholas A. Mason, published in Ornithology in 2021: In their paper, the authors show connections between 11 song variables in tanagers with specific vocal tract traits, body...
Peer review, effective and timely, is the basis of respect in today’s scientific publishing and is essential to the maintenance of high standards in any journal. The efforts of reviewers are critical, yet unpaid. Therefore, we at the American Ornithological Society and Ornithology thank all of you who contributed reviews while Volume 139 was in preparation (reviews completed between July 2021 and June 2022). Individuals with asterisks next to their names reviewed two or more manuscripts. Ornithology is also grateful for the work of our two dedicated Senior Editors; our outstanding board of associate editors; the editors of In Memoriam, Book Reviews, and 100 Years Ago; and the expert editorial team members in the AOS Publications Office whose work made another successful year of Ornithology possible. We invite all of our authors, referees, and society members, and ornithologists around the world to continue supporting and publishing basic and broadly applicable...
We applied an integrative taxonomic framework to evaluate the systematics of the Neotropical Black-and-white Becard (Pachyramphus albogriseus Sclater 1857). Combining phylogenomic (ultraconserved elements), morphological, and vocalization data, we confirmed that this species is polyphyletic; some individuals form a clade sister to P. polychopterus and should be afforded species rank as P. salvini Richmond 1899 (Slender-billed Becard), whereas the remaining subspecies of P. albogriseus (Broad-banded Becard) are sister to P. major. We found that P. salvini differs from P. albogriseus in song, color of the lores, wing-bar width, body size, and bill width. Whereas P. albogriseus occurs in montane forest in Costa Rica and Panama (ssp. ornatus) and along the eastern slope of the Andes from northern Venezuela to southern Peru (ssp. albogriseus), P. salvini is found in the lowlands from Pacific Colombia south to northwest Peru and in the Río Marañón drainage. The latter also occurs, possibly only seasonally, along the eastern slope of the Andes, where the two species’ ranges approach closely. We treat P. a. guayaquilensis Zimmer 1936 as a junior synonym of P. salvini Richmond 1899, and P. a. coronatus Phelps and Phelps 1953 as a junior synonym of P. a. albogriseus Sclater 1857. This study provides a striking example of a major problem for comparative biology: underestimated and mischaracterized diversity. We argue that there are likely many more cases like this awaiting discovery.