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Feathers are essential for avian thermoregulation, communication or flight and a reduction of plumage condition may alter these functions and reduce individual fitness. Recently, descriptive studies provided evidence that birds carry feather-degrading bacteria on their plumage that have the ability to degrade feathers rapidly under laboratory conditions. If(More)
In winter, dabbling ducks gather in large flocks and males compete not only for food resources but also for mates. Setting up a social hierarchy is one way to reduce the costs of conflicts, but the position in the hierarchy has implications for individuals, for instance their susceptibility to conflict and interference, hence to social stress. We(More)
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