Bart Kempenaers

Bart Kempenaers
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology · Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics

PhD

About

474
Publications
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15,798
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Publications

Publications (474)
Article
Many birds use carotenoids to colour their plumage yellow to red. Because birds cannot synthesise carotenoids, they need to obtain these pigments from food, although some species metabolise dietary carotenoids (which are often yellow) into derived carotenoids (often red). Here we study the occurrence of yellow and red carotenoid‐based plumage colou...
Article
In species with biparental care, coordination of parental behaviour between pair members increases reproductive success. Coordination is difficult if opportunities to communicate are scarce, which might have led to the evolution of elaborate nest relief rituals in species facing a low predation risk. However, whether such conspicuous rituals also e...
Article
Full-text available
The phenology of many species shows strong sensitivity to climate change; however, with few large scale intra-specific studies it is unclear how such sensitivity varies over a species’ range. We document large intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity to temperature using laying date information from 67 populations of two co-familial Eur...
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Full-text available
Sex-bias in breeding dispersal is considered the norm in many taxa, and the magnitude and direction of such sex-bias is expected to correlate with the social mating system. We used local return rates in shorebirds as an index of breeding site fidelity, and hence as an estimate of the propensity for breeding dispersal, and tested whether variation i...
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Full-text available
Culturally transmitted communication signals – such as human language or bird song – can change over time through cultural drift, and the resulting dialects may consequently enhance the separation of populations. However, the emergence of song dialects has been considered unlikely when songs are highly individual-specific, as in the zebra finch (Ta...
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Full-text available
Chromosomal inversions frequently underlie major phenotypic variation maintained by divergent selection within and between sexes. Here we examine whether and how intralocus conflicts contribute to balancing selection stabilizing an autosomal inversion polymorphism in the ruff Calidris pugnax. In this lekking shorebird, three male mating morphs (Ind...
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Full-text available
Investigating whether mating patterns are biased in relation to kinship in isolated populations can provide a better understanding of the occurrence of inbreeding avoidance mechanisms in wild populations. Here, we report on the genetic relatedness (r) among breeding pairs in a relict population of Thorn‐tailed Rayadito (Aphrastura spinicauda) in no...
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Songbirds have one special accessory chromosome, the so-called germline-restricted chromosome (GRC), which is only present in germline cells and absent from all somatic tissues. Earlier work on the zebra finch ( Taeniopygia guttata castanotis ) showed that the GRC is inherited only through the female line—like the mitochondria—and is eliminated fro...
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Understanding the genomic landscape of adaptation is central to the understanding of microevolution in wild populations. Genomic targets of selection and the underlying genomic mechanisms of adaptation can be elucidated by genome-wide scans for past selective sweeps or by scans for direct fitness associations. We sequenced and assembled 150 haploty...
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In socially monogamous species, extrapair paternity typically results from extrapair copulations, but it can also be due to rapid mate switching. Oring, Fleischer, Reed, and Marsden (1992, Nature, 359 (6396), 631–633) proposed a mechanism to explain the occurrence of extrapair paternity in sequentially polyandrous species: sperm stored by females f...
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Migratory birds undertake long and challenging journeys that have selected for a suite of adaptations from sensory mechanisms that facilitate orientation to extreme feats of endurance that push physiological limits. Recent work on two distantly related species revealed that migrating individuals increase their flight altitude dramatically during th...
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Female mate choice is thought to be responsible for the evolution of many extravagant male ornaments and displays, but the costs of being too selective may hinder the evolution of choosiness. Selection against choosiness may be particularly strong in socially monogamous mating systems, because females may end up without a partner and forego reprodu...
Article
Leaving the nest is a key transition in the life of altricial birds, whereby fledging decisions should depend on multiple factors, including the risk of predation. High postfledging predation risk may favour fledging at a more advanced stage of development, if more developed fledglings are better at escaping predation, or together with others. Whil...
Article
The transition from nestling to fledgling is a key moment in the development of altricial birds. Mortality immediately after fledging is typically high and selection should favour fledging strategies that maximize the chance of survival. While several studies have examined the influence of ecological conditions or nestling development on the timing...
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Full-text available
Individual-specific mate preferences are thought to be widespread, but they are still poorly understood in terms of mechanisms and function. Earlier work on a songbird (the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata) showed predominantly individual-specific mate preferences and signs of behavioural incompatibility with certain partners. However, the phenotyp...
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Full-text available
The propulsion of sperm cells via movement of the flagellum is of vital importance for successful fertilization. While the exact mechanism of energy production for this movement varies between species, in avian species energy is thought to come predominantly from the mitochondria located in the sperm midpiece. Larger midpieces may contain more mito...
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Full-text available
In many socially monogamous bird species, females produce offspring sired by males other than their social partner. A large body of research has aimed to elucidate the evolutionary causes and consequences of such extra‐pair paternity, but relatively little is known about the underlying behaviour. The number of sperm on the egg's perivitelline layer...
Preprint
Full-text available
Biparental care requires coordination between parents. Such coordination might prove difficult if opportunities to communicate are scarce, which might have led to the evolution of elaborate and noisy nest relief rituals in species facing a low risk of predation. However, whether such conspicuous rituals also evolved in species that avoid predation...
Preprint
Full-text available
Chromosomal inversions frequently underlie major phenotypic variation maintained by divergent selection within and between sexes. Here we examine whether and how intralocus conflicts contribute to balancing selection stabilizing an autosomal inversion polymorphism in the ruff Calidris pugnax. In this lekking shorebird, three male mating morphs (Ind...
Article
Extra‐pair paternity (EPP) is a key aspect of the mating behaviour of birds and its frequency varies widely among populations and species. Several hypotheses predict patterns of geographical variation in the occurrence and frequency of EPP, but a global‐scale study on variation in this trait is still lacking. We collected data on EPP from 663 popul...
Article
In species that are subject to brood parasitism, individuals often vary in their responses to parasitic eggs, with some rejecting the eggs while others do not. While some factors, such as host age (breeding experience), the degree of egg matching and the level of perceived risk of brood parasitism have been shown to influence host decisions, much o...
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Full-text available
Individuals differ in the quantity and quality of their associations with conspecifics. The resulting variation in the positions that individuals occupy within their social environment can affect several aspects of life history, including reproduction. While research increasingly shows how social factors can predict dyadic mating patterns (who will...
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Full-text available
In altricial birds, leaving the nest is a key life history transition associated with a high risk of mortality. Studies of numerous species have shown that young typically fledge early in the day, and it is often asserted that early fledging is important for survival; however, evidence for this hypothesis is limited. We used an automated monitoring...
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Full-text available
Animals use acoustic signals for communication, implying that the properties of these signals can be under strong selection. The acoustic adaptation hypothesis predicts that species in dense habitats emit lower-frequency sounds than those in open areas because low-frequency sounds propagate further in dense vegetation than high-frequency sounds. Si...
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Full-text available
Most birds are socially monogamous with both parents providing offspring care, but sometimes individuals are observed to provision at a nest that is not their own. One possible explanation for this behaviour is that it is a fitness maximising strategy by males who have copulated with the female and hence potentially sired extra‐pair offspring in th...
Preprint
Full-text available
Many shorebird species are rapidly declining (Piersma et al. 2016; Munro 2017; Studds et al. 2017), but it is not always clear why. Deteriorating and disappearing habitat, e.g. due to intensive agriculture (Donal et al. 2001; Kentie et al. 2013; Kentie et al. 2018), river regulation (Nebel et al. 2008) or mudflat reclamation (Ma et al. 2014; Larson...
Preprint
Full-text available
Culturally transmitted communication signals, such as human language or bird song, can change over time through a process of cultural drift, and may consequently enhance the separation of populations, potentially leading to reproductive isolation. Local song dialects have been identified in bird species with relatively simple songs where individual...
Preprint
Full-text available
All songbirds have one special accessory chromosome, the so-called germline-restricted chromosome (GRC), which is only present in germline cells and absent from all somatic tissues. Earlier work on the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata castanotis) showed that the GRC is inherited only through the female line - like mitochondrial DNA - and is elimina...
Article
Heterozygosity-fitness correlations (HFCs) have been used to monitor the effects of inbreeding in threatened populations. HFCs can also be useful to investigate the potential effects of inbreeding in isolated relict populations of long-term persistence, and to better understand the role of inbreeding and outbreeding as drivers of changes in genetic...
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Full-text available
Temporal variation in natural selection is predicted to strongly impact the evolution and demography of natural populations, with consequences for the rate of adaptation, evolution of plasticity, and extinction risk. Most of the theory underlying these predictions assumes a moving optimum phenotype, with predictions expressed in terms of the tempor...
Article
How species will adapt to future climate change is a key question in modern biology. One way to predict such adaptation is to draw from our knowledge of current spatial patterns of phenotypic variation. These are often summarised by different ecogeographical rules that describe how environmental gradients predict geographic variation in form and fu...
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Full-text available
Many studies investigated variation in the frequency of extrapair paternity (EPP) among individuals. However, our understanding of within-individual variation in EPP remains limited. Here, we comprehensively investigate variation in EPP at the within-individual level in a population of blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus). Our study is based on parentag...
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Full-text available
1. The integration and synthesis of the data in different areas of science is drastically slowed and hindered by a lack of standards and networking programmes. Long‐term studies of individually marked animals are not an exception. These studies are especially important as instrumental for understanding evolutionary and ecological processes in the w...
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Full-text available
Meiotic drivers have been proposed as a potent evolutionary force underlying genetic and phenotypic variation, genome structure, and also speciation. Due to their strong selective advantage, they are expected to rapidly spread through a population despite potentially detrimental effects on organismal fitness. Once fixed, autosomal drivers are crypt...
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Full-text available
Studies on extrapair paternity (EPP) are key to understanding the ecological and evolutionary drivers of variation in avian mating strategies, but information is currently lacking for most tropical and subtropical taxa. We describe the occurrence of EPP in two populations of a South American socially monogamous bird, the Thorn-tailed Rayadito, base...
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Full-text available
The evolutionary consequences of individual genetic diversity are frequently studied by assessing heterozygosity‐fitness correlations (HFCs). The prevalence of positive and negative HFCs and the predominance of general versus local effects in wild populations are far from understood, partly because comprehensive studies testing for both inbreeding...
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Full-text available
1) Moulting strategies in birds have evolved to avoid overlap with, or prepare for, other demanding parts of the annual cycle, such as reproduction or migration. When moulting for the first time after leaving the nest, young birds replace their typically poor-quality plumage during the post-juvenile moult. The extent of this moult varies between sp...
Preprint
Full-text available
The phenology of many species shows strong sensitivity to climate change; however, with few large scale intra-specific studies it is unclear how such sensitivity varies over a species' range. We document large intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity to temperature using laying date information from 67 populations of two European songbi...
Article
Full-text available
Psittaciformes (parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets) comprise one of the most colourful clades of birds. Their unique pigments and safe cavity nesting habits are two potential explanations for their colourful character. However, plumage colour varies substantially between parrot species and sometimes also between males and females of the same species....
Preprint
Full-text available
The integration and synthesis of the data in different areas of science is drastically slowed and hindered by a lack of standards and networking programmes. Long-term studies of individually marked animals are not an exception. These studies are especially important as instrumental for understanding evolutionary and ecological processes in the wild...
Article
Full-text available
Owls (Strigiformes) evolved specific adaptations to their nocturnal predatory lifestyle, such as asymmetrical ears, a facial disc, and a feather structure allowing silent flight. Owls also share some traits with diurnal raptors and other nocturnal birds, such as cryptic plumage patterns, reversed sexual size dimorphism and acute vision and hearing....
Article
Some species show high rates of reproductive failure, which is puzzling because natural selection works against such failure in every generation. Hatching failure is common in both captive and wild zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), yet little is known about its proximate causes. Here we analyze data on reproductive performance (the fate of >23,0...
Article
Full-text available
How genetic polymorphisms are maintained in a population is a key question in evolutionary ecology. Previous work on a plumage colour polymorphism in the common buzzard Buteo buteo suggested heterozygote advantage as the mechanism maintaining the co‐existence of three morphs (light, intermediate and dark). We took advantage of 20 years of life hist...
Preprint
Full-text available
Many animals use acoustic signals for communication, implying that the properties of these signals can be under strong selection. The acoustic adaptation hypothesis predicts that species living in dense habitats emit lower-frequency sounds than those in open areas, because low-frequency sounds generally propagate further in denser vegetation. Signa...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the population genetic consequences of habitat heterogeneity requires assessing whether patterns of gene flow correspond to landscape configuration. Studies of the genetic structure of populations are still scarce for Neotropical forest birds. We assessed range-wide genetic structure and contemporary gene flow in the thorn-tailed raya...
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Full-text available
Biological rhythms of nearly all animals on earth are synchronized with natural light and are aligned to day‐and‐night transitions. Here, we test the hypothesis that the lunar cycle affects the nocturnal flight activity of European Nightjars (Caprimulgus europaeus). We describe daily activity patterns of individuals from three different countries a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Psittaciformes (parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets) comprise one of the most colourful clades of birds. Their unique pigments and cavity nesting habits are two potential explanations for their colourful character. However, plumage colour varies substantially between parrot species and sometimes also between males and females of the same species. Here...
Article
Full-text available
In Focus: Rivers, P. R., & DuVal, E. H. (2020). Multiple paternity in a lek mating system: Females mate multiply when they choose inexperienced sires. Journal of Animal Ecology, 89, 1142–1152. In many socially monogamous species with biparental care, some females engage in extra‐pair copulations, despite the apparent risk of losing male help in rai...
Article
Full-text available
Evolution should render individuals resistant to stress and particularly to stress experienced by ancestors. However, many studies report negative effects of stress experienced by one generation on the performance of subsequent generations. To assess the strength of such transgenerational effects we propose a strategy aimed at overcoming the proble...
Article
Mating outside the pair‐bond occurs frequently in socially monogamous birds, but the benefits that females gain from this behaviour remain debated. One hypothesis is that females engage in extra‐pair copulations (EPCs) to ensure that their clutch is fertilised in case their own mate is infertile, but evidence for this idea is scarce. We report on a...
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Full-text available
When a species colonizes an urban habitat, differences in the environment can create novel selection pressures. Successful colonization will further lead to demographic perturbations and genetic drift, which can interfere with selection. Here, we test for consistent urban selection signals in multiple populations of the burrowing owl (Athene cunicu...
Article
Despite decades of research, our understanding of the underlying causes of within-population variation in patterns of extra-pair paternity (EPP) remains limited. Previous studies have shown that extra-pair mating decisions are linked to both individual traits and ecological factors. Here, we examine whether social associations among individuals pri...
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Full-text available
Nomadism is a behaviour where individuals respond to environmental variability with movements that seem unpredictable in timing and direction. In contrast to migration, the mechanisms underlying nomadic movements remain largely unknown. Here, we focus on a form of apparent nomadism in a polygynous shorebird, the pectoral sandpiper (Calidris melanot...
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Full-text available
Studies on the relationship between behavioral traits and dispersal are necessary to understand the evolution of dispersal syndromes. Empirical studies have mainly focused on natal dispersal, even though behavioral differences between dispersers and philopatric individuals are suspected to hold through the whole life cycle, potentially affecting br...
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Full-text available
All birds sleep and many do so in a specific location, the roost. Thus, every day each individual needs to decide when to go to (enter) and leave the roosting place. This determines the timing of activity, a trait shaped by both natural and sexual selection. Despite its importance in a variety of contexts, including foraging, predation, mating succ...
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Full-text available
In lekking male Ruffs, three genetically distinct morphs compete for copulations with the visiting females. Faeder males are female mimics, whereas Inde - pendents and Satellites show marked sexual dimorphism, including an elaborate ornamental plumage. Independent males holding a territory on a lek (Residents) have higher mating success than Indepe...
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Full-text available
Events in one part of the annual cycle often affect the performance (and subsequently fitness) of individuals later in the season (carry‐over effects). An important aspect of this relates to the timing of activities. For example, many studies on migratory birds have shown that relatively late‐spring arrival in the breeding area reduces both the lik...
Preprint
Full-text available
Evolution should render individuals resistant to stress and particularly to stress experienced by ancestors. However, many studies report negative effects of stress experienced by one generation on the performance of subsequent generations. To assess the strength of such transgenerational effects we used a strategy aimed at overcoming the problem o...
Article
Why do females of socially monogamous species engage in extra‐pair copulations? This long‐standing question remains a puzzle, because the benefits of female promiscuous behavior often do not seem to outweigh the costs. Genetic constraint models offer an answer by proposing that female promiscuity emerges through selection favoring alleles that are...
Preprint
Full-text available
Some species show high rates of reproductive failure, which is puzzling because natural selection works against such failure in every generation. Hatching failure is common in both captive and wild zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), yet little is known about its proximate causes. Here we analyze data on reproductive performance (fate of >23,000 e...
Article
Full-text available
Some birds undergo seasonal colour change by moulting twice each year, typically alternating between a cryptic, non‐breeding plumage and a conspicuous, breeding plumage (‘seasonal plumage colours’). We test for potential drivers of the evolution of seasonal plumage colours in all passerines (N = 5901 species, c. 60% of all birds). Seasonal plumage...
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Full-text available
Carotenoids are essential antioxidant micronutrients. Oviparous species acquire carotenoids from their food and deposit them in the egg yolk, where they support embryonic development. The total carotenoid concentration in the egg yolk is typically measured analytically, which requires time, equipment and expertise and can limit the sample available...
Article
Recent studies have demonstrated that experimental increases in perceived predation risk can substantially impair breeding behavior and reduce reproductive success. Perceived predation risk may also occur in the context of sexual signaling, with potential consequences for sexual selection. In songbirds, singing at dawn is an important sexual signal...
Preprint
Full-text available
Propulsion of sperm cells via movement of the flagellum is of vital importance for successful fertilization. Presumably, the energy for this movement comes from the mitochondria in the sperm midpiece. Larger midpieces may contain more mitochondria, which should enhance the energetic capacity and hence promote mobility. Due to an inversion polymorph...
Article
An increase in the perceived risk of predation triggers many behavioural changes in prey species, which can have consequences for their reproductive success. Perceived predation risk may also influence investment in extrapair activities and, as a result, the frequency of extrapair paternity (EPP), but this possibility remains largely untested. Here...