Christa Beckmann

Christa Beckmann
Western Sydney University · School of Science

PhD

About

53
Publications
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1,192
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Publications

Publications (53)
Article
Full-text available
The question about whether evolution is unpredictable and stochas-tic or intermittently constrained along predictable pathways is the subject of a fundamental debate in biology, in which understanding convergent evolution plays a central role. At the molecular level, documented examples of convergence are rare and limited to occurring within specif...
Article
Despite frequent reliance on surveys to document public attitudes towards conservation issues (such as invasive‐species control), only rarely do researchers assess the validity of statements made by the public in response to such surveys. Therefore, how well responses match actual behaviour remains an open question. We conducted a survey asking dri...
Article
AbstractA common method to assess behavioral types in personality research involves the use of a single emergence test (employed by researchers working on fish, avian, mammal, amphibian, and invertebrate taxa), whereby a shorter latency to emerge from a holding container into a novel environment is inferred to represent greater ‘boldness’. Although...
Article
The cane toad (Bufo marinus), a large, toxic, American anuran, was introduced to Australia in 1935. Populations of many of Australia's reptiles (snakes, varanid lizards, crocodiles) and carnivorous mammals (dasyurid marsupials) have declined because these predators are killed by the toad's powerful toxins. In contrast to these well-studied species,...
Article
Full-text available
Reproduction is one of the most energetically demanding life-history stages. As a result, breeding individuals often experience trade-offs, where energy is diverted away from maintenance (cell repair, immune function) toward reproduction. While it is increasingly acknowledged that oncogenic processes are omnipresent, evolving and opportunistic enti...
Article
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Energy expenditure (EE) is generally viewed as tumorigenic, due to production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can damage cells and DNA. On this basis, individuals within a species that sustain high EE should be more likely to develop cancer. Here, we argue the opposite, that high EE may be net protective effect against cancer, despite high RO...
Article
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Torpor is a controlled reduction of metabolism and body temperature, and its appropriate use allows small birds to adapt to and survive challenging conditions. However, despite its great energy conservation potential, torpor use by passerine birds is understudied although they are small and comprise over half of extant bird species. Here, we first...
Article
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Globally, outbreaks of Avian Influenza Virus (AIV) in poultry continue to burden economies and endanger human, livestock and wildlife health. Wild waterbirds are often identified as possible sources for poultry infection. Therefore, it is important to understand the ecological and environmental factors that directly influence infection dynamics in...
Article
Robins in the family Petroicidae are characteristic of the woodland bird community that is threatened in Australia as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation. Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea) populations declined by 56% between 1980 and 2000, with habitat loss likely being the primary cause. Given that Flame Robins primarily breed at high elevat...
Article
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Behavioral and physiological ecologists have long been interested in explaining the causes and consequences of trait variation, with a focus on individual differences in mean values. However, the majority of phenotypic variation typically occurs within individuals, rather than among individuals (as indicated by average repeatability being less than...
Article
Accumulation of lipid reserves is considered important for the overwinter survival of many animals. Much of our current knowledge comes from either laboratory studies, or field studies that are not well controlled, but rarely is overwinter survival directly estimated to evaluate selective mortality. Here, we studied plasticity of lipid storage, ove...
Preprint
Full-text available
Globally, outbreaks of Avian Influenza Virus (AIV) in poultry continue to burden economies and endanger human, livestock and wildlife health. Wild waterbirds are often identified as possible sources for poultry infection. Therefore, it is important to understand the ecological and environmental factors that directly influence infection dynamics in...
Article
Full-text available
Cellular cheating leading to cancers exists in all branches of multicellular life, favoring the evolution of adaptations to avoid or suppress malignant progression, and/or to alleviate its fitness consequences. Ecologists have until recently largely neglected the importance of cancer cells for animal ecology, presumably because they did not conside...
Data
A participatory monitoring programme of an exceptional modification of urban soundscapes during Covid-19 containment.
Article
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Strong and ongoing artificial selection in domestic animals has resulted in amazing phenotypic responses that benefit humans, but often at a cost to an animal’s health, and problems related to inbreeding depression, including a higher incidence of cancer. Despite high rates of cancer in domesticated species, little attention has been devoted to exp...
Article
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Increased physical activity reduces cancer risk in humans, but why this whole-organism attribute reduces cancer remains unclear. Active individuals tend to have high capacity to generate energy on a sustained basis, which in turn can permit greater immune responses crucial for fighting emerging neoplasia. Thus, we suggest energetic capacity as a po...
Article
Bird plumage hosts a diverse microbial community, including microbes capable of degrading the β-keratin in feathers (i.e. feather-degrading bacteria). The prevalence and effects of feather-degrading bacteria have primarily been studied in the Northern Hemisphere, and knowledge of the occurrence of these bacteria on Southern Hemisphere bird species...
Article
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Quantifying individual variation in labile physiological or behavioral traits often involves repeated measures through time, so as to test for consistency of individual differences (often using repeatability, "R") and/or individual differences in trendlines over time. Another form of temporal change in behavior is temporal autocorrelation, which pr...
Article
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Despite continuing interest in the proximate energetic constraints on individual variation in behavior, there is presently equivocal evidence for correlations between metabolism and behavior at the among‐individual level. Possible reasons for this include imprecise estimates of individual mean behavior and metabolism due to no repeated measures on...
Article
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While obesity is widely recognized as a risk factor for cancer, survival among patients with cancer is often higher for obese than for lean individuals. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain this “obesity paradox”, but no consensus has yet emerged. Here, we propose a novel hypothesis to add to this emerging debate which suggests that lea...
Article
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abstract: Behavioral ecologists have hypothesized that among- individual differences in resting metabolic rate (RMR) may predict con- sistent individual differences in mean values for costly behaviors or for behaviors that affect energy intake rate. This hypothesis has empirical support and presently attracts considerable attention, but, notably,...
Preprint
Full-text available
Dryad data: http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jn33140. abstract: q2 Behavioral ecologists have hypothesized that among-individual differences in resting metabolic rate (RMR) may predict consistent individual differences in mean values for costly behaviors or for behaviors that affect energy intake rate. This hypothesis has empirical support and prese...
Article
Age is one of the strongest predictors of cancer and risk of death from cancer. Cancer is therefore generally viewed as a senescence-related malady. However, cancer also exists at subclinical levels in humans and other animals, but its earlier effects on the body are poorly known by comparison. We argue here that cancer is a significant but ignored...
Chapter
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Neoplasia has been recorded in the vast majority of metazoans. The frequent occurrence of cancer in multicellular organisms suggests that neoplasia, similar to pathogens/parasites, may have a significant negative impact on host fitness in the wild. This is supported by the fact that wildlife cancers have recently been shown to result in significant...
Article
p>Reciprocal interactions between hosts, their symbionts and their oncobiota (cancer cell communities) are yet to be studied in detail. Considering malignant cells in addition to the holobiont perspective allows greater understanding of the processes governing both host phenotypes and cancer dynamics.</p
Article
Nest abandonment prior to laying is poorly understood and rarely studied. One possible explanation is that it is a behavior which may have evolved in response to high predation risk in nesting birds as a strategy to avoid the even greater costs of losing eggs or chicks. We tested this hypothesis in the Grey Fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa), a species...
Article
Neoplasia has been recorded in the vast majority of metazoans. The frequent occurrence of cancer in multicellular organisms suggests that neoplasia, similar to pathogens/parasites, may have a significant negative impact on host fitness in the wild. This is supported by the fact that wildlife cancers have recently been shown to result in significant...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding Avian Influenza Virus (AIV) infection dynamics in wildlife is crucial because of possible virus spill over to livestock and humans. Studies from the northern hemisphere have suggested several ecological and environmental drivers of AIV prevalence in wild birds. To determine if the same drivers apply in the southern hemisphere, where m...
Article
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Central to evolutionary theory is the idea that living organisms face phenotypic and/or genetic trade-offs when allocating resources to competing life-history demands, such as growth, survival and reproduction. These trade-offs are increasingly considered to be crucial to further our understanding of cancer. First, evidence suggests that neoplastic...
Article
Full-text available
There is a long-standing interest in behavioural ecology, exploring the causes and correlates of consistent individual differences in mean behavioural traits (‘personality’) and the response to the environment (‘plasticity’). Recently, it has been observed that individuals also consistently differ in their residual intraindividual variability (rIIV...
Article
b>1. The lack of consensus concerning the impact of telomere length (TL) dynamics on survival emphasizes the need for additional studies to evaluate the effect of TL on key life-history processes. 2. Using both cross-sectional and longitudinal data, we therefore explored age-specific TL dynamics in a squamate reptile: the frillneck lizard ( Chlamy...
Article
Temperature has profound effects on physiology of ectothermic animals. However, the effects on temperature variation on behavioral traits are poorly studied in contrast to physiological endpoints. This may be important as even small differences in temperatures have large effects on physiological rates including overall metabolism, and behavior is k...
Article
Full-text available
Despite important differences between infectious diseases and cancers, tumour development (neoplasia) can nonetheless be closely compared to infectious disease because of the similarity of their effects on the body. On this basis, we predict that many of the life-history (LH) responses observed in the context of host–parasite interactions should al...
Article
Nest predation is the most important source of reproductive failure for many bird species, thus placing nests in ‘safe’ locations that minimise predation risk is paramount to maximising fitness. After a nest predation event, some species have been shown to manage the risk of nest predation for subsequent re-nesting attempts by moving to a new locat...
Article
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Tropical and subtropical species typically experience relatively high atmospheric temperatures during reproduction, and are subject to climate-related challenges that are largely unexplored, relative to more extensive work conducted in temperate regions. We studied the effects of high atmospheric and nest temperatures during reproduction in the zeb...
Article
Nest structures are essential for successful reproduction in most bird species. Nest construction costs time and energy, and most bird species typically build one nest per breeding attempt. Some species, however, build more than one nest, and the reason for this behaviour is often unclear. In the Grey Fantail Rhipidura albiscapa, nest abandonment b...
Article
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Invasive species can disrupt the communication systems that native biota use for reproductive interactions. In tropical Australia, invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina) breed in many of the same waterbodies that are used by native frogs, and males of both the invader and the native taxa rely on vocal signals to attract mates. We conducted playback...
Article
Road-killed animals are easy and inexpensive to survey, and may provide information about species distributions, abundances, and mortality rates. As with any sampling method, however, we need to explore methodological biases in such data. First, how does an animal's behavior (e.g., use of the center vs. periphery of the road) influence its vulnerab...
Article
Full-text available
© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Anti-predator behavior is a key aspect of life history evolution, usually studied at the population (mean), or across-individual levels. However individuals can also differ in their intra-individual (residual) variation, but to our knowledge, this has only been studied once before in free-living animals. H...
Article
Full-text available
Invasive species can induce shifts in habitat use by native taxa: either by modifying habitat availability, or by repelling or attracting native species to the vicinity of the invader. The ongoing invasion of cane toads (Rhinella marina) through tropical Australia might affect native frogs by affecting refuge‐site availability, because both frogs a...
Article
Full-text available
Cane Toads (Rhinella marina; hereafter ‘toads’) are large, toxic American anurans that were introduced to Australia in 1935. Research on their ecological impact has focussed on the lethal ingestion of toxic toads by native frog-eating predators. Less attention has been paid to the potential impacts of Cane Toads as predators, although these large a...
Article
Full-text available
The impact of invasive predators on native prey has attracted considerable scientific attention, whereas the reverse situation (invasive species being eaten by native predators) has been less frequently studied. Such interactions might affect invasion success; an invader that is readily consumed by native species may be less likely to flourish in i...
Article
Full-text available
Although interest in the ecological impacts of invasive species has largely focused on negative effects, some native taxa may benefit from invader arrival. In tropical Australia, invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus) have fatally poisoned many native predators (e.g., marsupials, crocodiles, lizards) that attempt to ingest the toxic anurans, but birds...
Article
Full-text available
Myths about invasive species are widespread in the general community, even when contrary to scientific evidence. Public revulsion against invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus) in Australia has encouraged the belief that toads pose a significant risk to domestic poultry, by poisoning fowls that eat toads or that drink water contaminated by toads. Altho...
Article
Full-text available
Intraspecific killing without cannibalism is rare in birds. I report an observation of an adult Pacific Reef Egret (Egretta sacra) killing an adult conspecific at One Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The motivation and context for the killing were not apparent. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first report of intraspecific killin...
Article
Full-text available
Consistent individual differences in behaviour, termed personality, are common in animal populations and can constrain their responses to ecological and environmental variation, such as temperature. Here, we show for the first time that normal within-daytime fluctuations in temperature of less than 3 degrees C have large effects on personality for...
Article
The early habitat use of age 0 year brook charr Salvelinus fontinalis in three north temperate lakes which differ in terms of shoreline physical habitat is described. In the two lakes, which contained abundant shoreline woody debris and inundated vegetation, brook charr were observed in extremely close proximity with these habitat features, near sh...
Article
Intraspecific killing without cannibalism is rare in birds. I report an observation of an adult Pacific Reef Egret (Egretta sacra) killing an adult conspecific at One Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The motivation and context for the killing were not apparent. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first report of intraspecific killin...
Article
Full-text available
Fish are frequently considered the top predator in freshwater food web models despite evidence that predatory birds can impact fish populations. In this study, we quantified bird predation rates on experimental populations of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum, 1792)) created by stocking nine small lakes in British Columbia, Canada. Combin...

Projects

Projects (4)
Project
The evolutionary ecology of cancer is a fundamental aspect of biology that impacts every multicellular organism. Nevertheless, the topic has largely been overlooked, with little understanding of the evolutionary relationships between malignant cells and the host, and how oncogenic processes act as selective forces. Similar to pathogens, cancer cells depend on their hosts for sustenance, but also impair host fitness, and promote host control mechanisms – both immediate and long term – to inactivate malignant cells. Cancers are the result of evolutionary processes i.e. neoplastic cells with higher proliferation rate acquiring higher fitness as selfish cells evolve in response to tumour environment. Since malignant cells are omnipresent in the body of multicellular organisms, it is predictable that they are involved in reciprocal interactions with the host phenotype. This project employs a multidisciplinary approach including immunology, (epi)genetics, oncology, evolutionary ecology and mathematics to provide a transect of the host-cancer evolutionary interface, in order to understand cancer evolution, the short and long term reciprocal interactions and mechanisms between cancer and the host (proximate/ultimate causes), and ultimately the consequences of oncogenic processes on host biology.
Project
Selective and developmental effects of predation and predation risk seem to encourage behavioural variation and covariance among behaviours. We use experimental evolution in guppies, using multiple small ponds, to study how and why predation might favour increased trait variance and covariance. Traits to be studies include behaviour, morphology, colouration and metabolism. We are now into year 2 of fish living with and without predators, and first data are being collected.
Project
Altricial songbird nests primarily function to provide a suitable environment for the development of offspring, but can also contribute to camouflage, parasite control, and sexual signalling. Thus, nest characteristics are expected to co-vary with environmental conditions and fitness correlates, but in-depth studies are rather limited, particularly for non-cavity nesting species. We are conducting research on within-population variation in functional nest properties and nesting behaviour of alpine songbirds.