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Telomeres are dynamic DNA-protein structures that form protective caps at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. Although initial telomere length is partly genetically determined, subsequent accelerated telomere shortening has been linked to elevated levels of oxidative stress. Recent studies show that short telomere length alone is insufficient to induce(More)
Populations of migratory birds have undergone marked declines, although the causes and mechanisms remain unknown. Because environmental effects on population dynamics are mediated by the effects of ecological factors on individuals, understanding changes in individual phenotypes in response to ecological conditions is key to understanding population trends.(More)
On the basis of correlation analyses between annual Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values in Africa and the annual survival rate estimated for a breeding population of barn swallows Hirundo rustica from Denmark, we identified potential wintering and migration areas in South Africa during December–February and March–May, when barn swallows(More)
Global climate change is a major threat to biodiversity. Large-scale analyses have generally focused on the impacts of climate change on the geographic ranges of species and on phenology, the timing of ecological phenomena. We used long-term monitoring of the abundance of breeding birds across Europe and the United States to produce, for both regions,(More)
Parent-offspring conflict may arise because the lifetime reproductive success of the parent is more influenced by its life span than by reproductive success during a particular reproductive event, while the fitness of an offspring depends firstly on its own survival as a juvenile and only subsequently on its own reproductive success. The naive immune system(More)
Parasites often have detrimental effects on their hosts, and only host individuals able to cope with parasitism are likely to display induced or genetic resistance. Hosts may respond to parasitism by differential investment in offspring depending on their ability to cope with parasitism, because offspring that perform better than their siblings are(More)
The ability of organisms to respond evolutionarily to rapid climatic change is poorly known. Secondary sexual characters show the potential for rapid evolutionary change, as evidenced by strong divergence among species and high evolvability. Here we show that the length of the outermost tail feathers of males of the socially monogamous barn swallow Hirundo(More)
F. Helfenstein (correspondence), Evolutionary Ecology Group, Zoological Institute, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 6, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland. E-mail: fabrice.helfenstein@free.fr. R. H. Wagner, Konrad Lorenz Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Savoyenstrasse 1a, A-1160 Vienna, Austria. T. Szép, Institute of Environmental Sciences, College of(More)
We tested two general models of flocking behaviour, namely the antipredation model and foraging efficiency model on mixed-species tit flocks (Parus spp.). After food addition the size of mixed-species flocks was significantly less than in the control samples. In the presence of extra food significantly more birds were observed either in monospecific flocks(More)
All organisms are adapted to their native environment, posing problems in terms of fitness costs for individuals that leave this environment. Other species constitute an important coevolving component of this native environment, with more than half of all living organisms being parasites. All host species have evolved behavioral and physiological defenses(More)