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Accueil > Agenda > Les séminaires Jean Roche > Communication chimique chez les oiseaux : le cas des pétrels.

Communication chimique chez les oiseaux : le cas des (...)

Lundi 26 juin 2006, 11h, salle Lissitzky.


1 : J Exp Biol. 2006 Jun 1 ;209(Pt 11):2165-9.

Evidence that blue petrel, Halobaena caerulea, fledglings can detect and orient to dimethyl sulfide.

Bonadonna F, Caro S, Jouventin P, Nevitt GA.

Behavioural Ecology Group, CNRS-CEFE, 1919 route de Mende, F-34293 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France.

Procellariiform seabirds (the petrels, albatrosses and shearwaters) are recognized for their acute sense of smell. These pelagic seabirds forage over thousands of miles of ocean to find patchily distributed prey resources. Over the past decade, much headway has been made in unravelling the variety of olfactory foraging strategies that Antarctic species employ, and it is becoming clearer that olfaction plays a key role in foraging, particularly for burrow nesting species. Now we are beginning to explore how these behaviours develop in chicks. Procellariiform chicks fledge and survive the open seas without aid or instruction from a parent, but how they are able to accomplish this task is unknown. Here we explore whether chicks leave the nest pre-tuned to olfactory cues necessary for foraging. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that blue petrel chicks (Halobaena caerulea) are able to detect and orient to a foraging cue (dimethyl sulphide, DMS) used by adults without ever having experienced this odour at sea. We first established that chicks could detect DMS at a biologically relevant concentration that they will later naturally encounter at sea (<10 pmol l(-1)). We then performed preference tests in a Y-maze on a group of birds 1-6 days before they fledged. Sixteen out of 20 fledglings preferred DMS (e.g. DMS+propylene glycol) to a ;control’ odour (propylene glycol alone). Our results suggest that chicks can detect and may already recognize DMS as an orientation cue even before they leave the nest to forage for the first time.

2 : Behav Processes. 2005 Nov 1 ;70(3):264-70.

Olfactory conditioning experiments in a food-searching passerine bird in semi-natural conditions.

Mennerat A, Bonadonna F, Perret P, Lambrechts MM.

Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, UMR 5175 du CNRS, 1919 Route de Mende, F-34293 Montpellier Cedex 5, France. adele.mennerat

Because passerine birds have a very small relative olfactory bulb size, they have been considered to have weak olfactory capacities for decades. Recent investigations however suggest that breeding female blue tits (Parus caeruleus) are sensitive to lavender odour in the reproductive context of building and maintaining the nest. Here, we present results of an olfactory conditioning experiment in blue tits held in semi-natural conditions during the breeding season. We show that captive male blue tits, trained to associate lavender odour with a food reward, are more attracted to an empty feeder box emitting lavender odour than an odourless empty feeder box. Females did not distinguish significantly between empty feeders with and without lavender odour during the test phase, although they responded positively at the end of the training phase. These results suggest that male blue tits can use olfaction in a context not related to nest building. Additional experiments will be required to better understand the observed sex differences in response to the experimental set up, and in what context free-ranging individuals use olfaction.

3 : Science. 2004 Oct 29 ;306(5697):835.

Partner-specific odor recognition in an Antarctic seabird.

Bonadonna F, Nevitt GA.

Behavioural Ecology Group, CNRS-Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, 1919 route de Mende, F-34293 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France. bonadonna

Among birds, the Procellariiform seabirds (petrels, albatrosses, and shearwaters) are prime candidates for using chemical cues for individual recognition. These birds have an excellent olfactory sense, and a variety of species nest in burrows that they can recognize by smell. However, the nature of the olfactory signature—the scent that makes one burrow smell more like home than another—has not been established for any species. Here, we explore the use of intraspecific chemical cues in burrow recognition and present evidence for partner-specific odor recognition in a bird.

4 : J Exp Biol. 2003 Oct ;206(Pt 20):3719-22.

Evidence for nest-odour recognition in two species of diving petrel.

Bonadonna F, Cunningham GB, Jouventin P, Hesters F, Nevitt GA.

Behavioural Ecology Group, Centre d’Ecologie fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CNRS, F-34293 Montpellier Cedex 5, France. bonadonna

In nearly every procellariiform species, the sense of smell appears to be highly adapted for foraging at sea, but the sense of smell among the diving petrels is enigmatic. These birds forage at considerable depth and are not attracted to odour cues at sea. However, several procellariiform species have recently been shown to relocate their nesting burrows by scent, suggesting that these birds use an olfactory signature to identify the home burrow. We wanted to know whether diving petrels use smell in this way. We tested the common diving petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix and the South-Georgian diving petrel Pelecanoides georgicus to determine whether diving petrels were able to recognise their burrow by scent alone. To verify the efficacy of the method, we also tested a bird that is known to use olfaction for foraging and nest recognition, the thin-billed prion Pachyptila belcheri. In two-choice T-maze trials, we found that, for all species, individuals significantly preferred the odour of their own nest material to that of a conspecific. Our findings strongly suggest that an individual-specific odour provides an olfactory signature that allows burrowing petrels to recognize their own burrow. Since this ability seems to be well developed in diving petrels, our data further implicate a novel adaptation for olfaction in these two species that have been presumed to lack a well-developed sense of smell.

5 : J Exp Biol. 2003 May ;206(Pt 10):1615-20.

A comparison of the olfactory abilities of three species of procellariiform chicks.

Cunningham GB, Van Buskirk RW, Bonadonna F, Weimerskirch H, Nevitt GA.

Department of Neurobiology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, USA. gbcunningham

Most studies investigating olfactory sensitivities in procellariiform seabirds have concentrated on adults, but little attention has been paid to how olfactory behaviours develop. We took a first step towards understanding the ontogeny of these behaviours by testing the olfactory abilities of the blue petrel Halobaena caerulea, the thin-billed prion Pachyptila belcheri, and the common diving petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix. We scored the responsiveness of chicks in a sleep-like state to puffs of odours presented near their nostrils. We tested reactions to dimethyl sulphide (DMS, a prey-related odourant) and phenyl ethyl alcohol (PEA, a novel odourant) ; distilled water was used as a control. Scores for blue petrel chicks were significantly greater for DMS and PEA than for control presentations, while scores for thin-billed prions were significantly greater only for PEA. Common diving petrels did not respond significantly to either odourant. These results are consistent with what is known of adult olfactory behaviours. A negative correlation between the mass of blue petrel chicks and their mean responsiveness to odours indicates that older or recently fed birds are less responsive to these stimuli.

6 : Behav Processes. 2003 Feb 28 ;61(1-2):95-100.

Homing in pelagic birds : a pilot experiment with white-chinned petrels released in the open sea.

Benhamou S, Bried J, Bonadonna F, Jouventin P.

CNRS-CEFE, Behavioural Ecology Group, F-34293 Cedex 5, Montpellier, France

During the breeding period white-chinned petrels (Procellaria aequinoctialis) repeatedly perform long foraging trips in the open ocean from their breeding island, and are able to home with an astonishing precision. The orientation mechanisms involved are not yet known. By analogy with those used by desert ants moving in a similarly "featureless" environment, one can hypothesise that petrels may home using path-integration. We displaced 11 white-chinned petrels 725-785km from their burrows to the open sea, preventing them from using visual and magnetic route-based information. Three birds carried satellite transmitters. Our results showed that they can home rather efficiently in such conditions.

7 : J Exp Biol. 2002 Aug ;205(Pt 16):2519-23.

Smelling home : a good solution for burrow-finding in nocturnal petrels ?

Bonadonna F, Bretagnolle V.

Behavioural Ecology Group, CNRS-CEFE, 1919 Route de Mende, F-34293 Montpellier Cedex 5, France. francesco.bonadonna

Many burrowing petrels are able to return to their nests in complete darkness. The well-developed anatomy of their olfactory system and the attraction that food-related odour cues have for some petrel species suggest that olfaction may be used to recognize the burrow. In contrast, surface-nesting petrels may rely on visual cues to recognise their nest. We performed experiments on nine species of petrel (with different nesting habits) rendered anosmic either by plugging the nostrils or by injecting zinc sulphate onto the nasal epithelium. Compared with shamtreated control birds, we found that anosmia impaired nest recognition only in species that nest in burrows and that return home in darkness. Therefore, petrels showing nocturnal activity on land may rely on their sense of smell to find their burrows, while petrels showing diurnal activity or surface nesters may disregard olfactory cues in favour of visual guidance

8 : J Exp Biol. 2001 Apr ;204(Pt 8):1485-9.

Could osmotaxis explain the ability of blue petrels to return to their burrows at night ?

Bonadonna F, Spaggiari J, Weimerskirch H.

Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chize, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, F-79360 Villiers en Bois, France. bonado

Like many other species of petrel, blue petrel (Halobaena caerulea) are able to return to their nest burrows at night in complete darkness. Since petrels have a well-developed olfactory system, we carried out an experiment to test whether blue petrels use olfaction to localise their nest burrows. Incubating birds were injected intranasally with a zinc sulphate solution, which reversibly impairs the sensitivity of the olfactory mucosa ; control birds were treated with physiological saline solution. None of the anosmic birds returned to their burrows, whereas all the birds treated with saline solution did. Our results suggest that olfactory cues are necessary for blue petrels to find their burrows.

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