Susanne Jenni-Eiermann

Susanne Jenni-Eiermann
Swiss Ornithological Institute · Ecophysiology

PhD

About

107
Publications
17,719
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5,172
Citations
Citations since 2016
24 Research Items
2323 Citations
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300

Publications

Publications (107)
Article
Food shortage challenges the development of nestlings; yet, to cope with this stressor, nestlings can induce stress responses to adjust metabolism or behaviour. Food shortage also enhances the antagonism between siblings, but it remains unclear whether the stress response induced by food shortage operates via the individual nutritional state or via...
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Full-text available
Space-based tracking technology using low-cost miniature tags is now delivering data on fine-scale animal movement at near-global scale. Linked with remotely sensed environmental data, this offers a biological lens on habitat integrity and connectivity for conservation and human health; a global network of animal sentinels of environmental change.
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Human recreational activities increase worldwide in space and frequency leading to higher rates of encounter between humans and wild animals. Because wildlife often perceive humans as predators, this increase in human disturbance may have negative consequences for the individuals and also for the viability of populations. Up to now, experiments on...
Article
In birds, feather corticosterone values (CORTf) are increasingly used as a retrospective and integrative proxy of an individual’s physiological state during the period of feather growth. Relatively high CORTf values are usually interpreted as an indicator of exposure to energy-demanding or stressful conditions during feather growth. However, in nes...
Article
Understanding how vulnerable species are to new stressors, such as anthropogenic changes, is crucial for mitigating their potential negative consequences. Many studies have investigated species sensitivity to human disturbance by focusing on single behavioral or physiological parameters, such as flight initiation distance and glucocorticoid levels....
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Personalities, i.e. consistent individual differences in behaviour, have been found in many animal populations. However, the reasons why personalities emerge, how they persist and the consequences they have in a changing environment are poorly understood. Factors influencing personalities include genetic background, prenatal (e.g. hormonal) and pos...
Article
The predictable oscillation between the light of day and the dark of night across the diel cycle is a powerful selective force that has resulted in anticipatory mechanisms in nearly all taxa. At polar latitudes, however, this oscillation becomes highly attenuated during the continuous light of polar day during summer. A general understanding of how...
Article
2014): Modulation of the stress response in birds and its meaning in nature conservation. Ornithol. Beob. 111: 107-120. During threatening situations birds react with the activation of the hypothala-mo-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA-axis). Corticosterone, the main glucocorticoid in birds, is released from the adrenal cortex into the circulation in hig...
Article
Yolk hormones are substances which transmit non-genetic factors from the mother to the next generation. The systematic changes of yolk hormone concentrations within asynchronously hatching clutches have been interpreted as a means to adaptively shape the offspring's phenotype. However, in synchronously hatching clutches the role of yolk hormones is...
Article
The 24 h geophysical light-dark cycle is the main organizer of daily rhythms, scheduling physiology and behavior. This cycle attenuates greatly during the continuous light of summer at polar latitudes, resulting in species-specific and even individual-specific patterns of behavioral rhythmicity, but the physiological mechanisms underlying this vari...
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Migration can influence host–parasite dynamics in animals by increasing exposure to parasites, by reducing the energy available for immune defense, or by culling of infected individuals. These mechanisms have been demonstrated in several comparative analyses; however, few studies have investigated whether conspecific variation in migration distance...
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Reactions to acute stressors are critical for survival. Yet, the challenges of assessing underlying physiological processes in the field limit our understanding of how variation in the acute stress response relates to fitness in free-living animals. Glucocorticoid secretion during acute stress can be measured from blood plasma concentrations, but e...
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Condition-dependence is considered as a dominant mechanism ensuring the fitness benefits of continued mate choice for heritable sexual signal traits, but crucial questions remain concerning the underlying physiological pathways. For example, it is unclear whether condition-dependence is mediated by the different amount of resource obtained, some un...
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Methods to assess environmental pollution and stress responses in birds with scarcely invasive or non-invasive sampling are highly sought after in ecology and conservation. For several years now, feathers have been promoted as non-invasive tools to assess stress physiology and environmental pollution in birds. This has mainly been applied in whole...
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Body temperature of endotherms shows substantial within- and between-individual variation, but the sources of this variation are not fully understood in wild animals. Variation in body temperature can indicate how individuals cope with their environment via metabolic or stress-induced effects, both of which may relate to depletion of energy reserve...
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Migrating birds are known to fly non-stop for thousands of kilometres without food or water intake and at a high metabolic rate thereby relying on energy stores which were built up preceding a flight bout. Hence, from a physiological point of view the metabolism of a migrant has to switch between an active fasting phase during flight and a fuelling...
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The use of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS; also known as “drones”) for professional and personal-leisure use is increasing enormously. UAS operate at low altitudes (<500 m) and in any terrain, thus they are susceptible to interact with local fauna, generating a new type of anthropogenic disturbance that has not been systematically evaluated....
Chapter
Flight has evolved independently in birds, bats, and insects and was present in the Mesozoic pterosaurians that have disappeared. Of the roughly one million living animal species, more than three-quarters are flying insects. Flying is an extremely successful way of locomotion. At first glance, this seems surprising because leaving the ground and mo...
Article
Flight has evolved independently in birds, bats, and insects and was present in the Mesozoic pterosaurians that have disappeared. Of the roughly one million living animal species, more than three-quarters are flying insects. Flying is an extremely successful way of locomotion. At first glance, this seems surprising because leaving the ground and mo...
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Background: An understanding of year-round habitat use is essential for determining how carry-over effects shape population dynamics in long-distance migratory songbirds. The recent discovery of long-term migratory staging sites in many species, prior to arrival at final wintering sites, adds complexity to efforts to decipher non-breeding habitat u...
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\textbf{Background:}$ An understanding of year-round habitat use is essential for determining how carry-over effects shape population dynamics in long-distance migratory songbirds. The recent discovery of long-term migratory staging sites in many species, prior to arrival at final wintering sites, adds complexity to efforts to decipher non-breeding...
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Many long-distance migratory birds sing extensively on their tropical African wintering grounds, but the function of this costly behavior remains unknown. In this study, we carry out a first empirical test of three competing hypotheses, combining a field study of great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) wintering in Africa with a comparative...
Article
Malaria parasites can have strong effects on the population dynamics and evolution of migratory bird species. In many species, parasite transmission occurs on the wintering grounds, but studies to determine the consequences of infection have taken place during the breeding season, when malaria parasites circulate at chronic levels. We examined the...
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Tracking devices are used in a broad range of species for a broad range of questions, but their potential effects on study species are debated. Outcomes of earlier studies on effects are equivocal; some studies find negative effects on behaviour and life history traits, while others do not. Contrasting results might be due to low sample sizes, temp...
Article
Anthropogenic disturbance of wildlife is of growing conservation concern, but we lack comprehensive approaches of its multiple negative effects. We investigated several effects of disturbance by winter outdoor sports on free-ranging alpine Black Grouse by simultaneously measuring their physiological and behavioral responses. We experimentally flush...
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In many seabird studies, single annual proxies of prey abundance have been used to explain variability in breeding performance, but much more important is probably the timing of prey availability relative to the breeding season when energy demand is at a maximum. Until now, intraseasonal variation in prey availability has been difficult to quantify...
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1. The concentration of the glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone (CORT) is increasingly used in ecology and conservation biology as an integrated measure of the historical record of an individual’s hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity during feather growth. However, where and how CORT is incorporated in feathers is incompletely known. 2. W...
Article
Glucocorticoid (GC) hormones, i.e. corticosterone (CORT) in birds, support physiological homeostasis and facilitate adaptations to stressful situations. However, maintaining high GC levels are energetically costly and interfere with other physiological processes. To keep the balance of costs and benefits of GC hormones, various mechanisms act to ad...
Article
During translocations, stress, as measured by the increase of glucocorticoids, cannot be avoided, but has been suspected to exacerbate the vulnerability to many causes of mortality after release. Therefore, measures to reduce stress have been proposed, such as keeping animals in pens before release (soft release). In this study, we investigated two...
Article
The worldwide presence of feral pigeons Columba livia domestica in urban habitats presents potential public health hazards from pathogens and parasites, and droppings can lead to damage to buildings. A variety of lethal and non-lethal chemical repellents, visual, sonic or mechanic measures are available to deter pigeons, but they are not always app...
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Migrating birds perform extraordinary endurance flights, up to 200 h non-stop, at a very high metabolic rate and while fasting. Such an intense and prolonged physical activity is normally associated with an increased production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) and thus increased risk of oxidative stress. However, up to now it was unkn...
Article
Elevated baseline corticosterone levels function to mobilize energy in predictable life-history stages, such as bird migration. At the same time, baseline corticosterone has a permissive effect on the accumulation of fat stores (fueling) needed for migratory flight. Most migrants alternate flight bouts with stopovers, during which they replenish fu...
Article
Genetic background, prenatal and post-natal early-life conditions influence the development of interconnected physiological systems and thereby shape the phenotype. Certain combinations of genotypes and pre- and post-natal conditions may provide higher fitness in a specific environmental context. Here, we investigated how grey partridges Perdix per...
Article
Reproducing parents face the difficult challenge of trading-off investment in current reproduction against presumed future survival and reproduction. Glucocorticoids are supposed to mediate this trade-off because the adrenocortical response to stress disrupts normal reproductive behaviour in favour of self-maintenance and own survival. According to...
Chapter
Birds undergo among the most extraordinary fasting events which may last up to several months as in breeding or moulting penguins during the subantarctic winter or more than 100 h during the migratory flight of bar-tailed godwits (Limosa lapponica) from Alaska to New Zealand across the Pacific ocean. In this review we demonstrate that it is the ext...
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If the fitness benefits gained from producing male and female offspring differ due to parental or environmental conditions, parents should adjust their level of investment accordingly. We studied sex allocation and reproductive investment in a population of common guillemots (Uria aalge) in 2 breeding seasons. The common guillemot is a single-egg s...
Article
Stressful situations during development can shape the phenotype for life by provoking a trade-off between development and survival. Stress hormones, mainly glucocorticoids, play an important orchestrating role in this trade-off. Hence, how stress sensitive an animal is critically determines the phenotype and ultimately fitness. In several species,...
Article
Montane and alpine habitats in Europe remained relatively undisturbed until the beginning of the last century. Today, outdoor recreation activities are a major economic factor in alpine regions. Many tourism areas coincide with winter habitats of shy and endangered species. The Western Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus has suffered from rapid populatio...
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Corticosterone regulates physiological changes preparing wild birds for migration. It also modulates the immune system and may lead to increased susceptibility to infection, with implications for the spread of pathogens, including highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1. The red knot (Calidris canutus islandica) displays migratory chan...
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Nectar exploitation by European birds mainly refers to passerines feeding on exotic plants, although some recent studies described nectar-feeding by trans-Saharan passerines on local plants. We examined which birds and plants are involved in nectar consumption and investigated the consequences of nectar use on plasma blood glucose concentrations du...
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1. Physiological parameters can give valuable indications about the performance of animals in their environment and the combined deleterious effects of several factors on the individual. The concentration of circulating glucocorticoids is often taken as a measurement of the level of stress an animal is exposed to. As an alternative, the ratio of he...
Article
The developmental hypothesis proposes that the adrenocortical response to stress during postnatal development in birds should not develop when the benefits of elevated corticosterone do not outweigh the deleterious effects on growth and development. We tested three predictions developed from this hypothesis in free-living, semi-altricial Eurasian k...
Article
Twice a year, songbirds breeding in the Western Palaearctic cross the largest desert of the world, the Sahara, to reach their African winter quarters. Recently, a radar study quantified this migration and demonstrated that almost all passerines cross the western Sahara with an intermittent strategy, i.e. they fly during the night and rest during th...
Article
While evidence is accumulating that stress-induced glucocorticoid responses help organisms to quickly adjust their physiology and behaviour to life-threatening environmental perturbations, the function and the ecological factors inducing variation in baseline glucocorticoid levels remain poorly understood. In this study we investigated the effects...
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The information content of a sexual signal may predict its importance in a multiple signal system. Many studies have correlated sexual signal expression with the absolute levels of nutrient reserves. In contrast, the changes of nutrient reserves associated with signal expression are largely unknown in the wild due to technical limitations although...
Article
Sexual selection theory posits that ornaments can signal the genetic quality of an individual. Eumelanin-based coloration is such an ornament and can signal the ability to cope with a physiological stress response because the melanocortin system regulates eumelanogenesis as well as physiological stress responses. In the present article, we experime...
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Long-distance migrants regularly pass ecological barriers, like the Sahara desert, where extensive fuel loads are necessary for a successful crossing. A central question is how inexperienced migrants know when to put on extensive fuel loads. Beside the endogenous rhythm, external cues have been suggested to be important. Geomagnetic information has...
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Although gene by environment interactions may play a key role in the maintenance of genetic polymorphisms, little is known about the ecological factors involved in these interactions. We investigated whether food supply and parasites can mediate covariation between the degree of adult pheomelanin-based coloration, a heritable trait, and offspring b...
Article
The specific role of the glucocorticoid hormone corticosterone in regulating the migratory stages of flight and refueling in free-living migrants is as yet poorly studied, because these stages are difficult to identify in the field. Night-migrating songbirds provide an excellent model to investigate how corticosterone correlates with behavior and p...
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Environmental conditions affect growth and development and, through developmental plasticity, create phenotypic variation. In suboptimal conditions current survival is traded-off against development. Corticosterone, the main glucocorticoid in birds, may be involved in the reallocation of energy from growth to maintenance, but its effect on growth h...
Article
The concentration of circulating glucocorticoids is regulated in response to environmental and endogenous conditions. Total circulating corticosterone, the main glucocorticoid in birds, consists of a fraction which is bound to corticosterone-binding globulins (CBG) and a free fraction. There is increasing evidence that the environment modulates fre...
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During endurance flight most birds do not feed and have to rely on their body reserves. Fat and protein is catabolised to meet the high energetic demands. Even though the hormonal regulation of migration is complex and not yet fully understood, the adrenocortical hormone corticosterone crystallizes to play a major role in controlling physiological...
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The Red Knot (Calidris canutus) is a long-distance migrant breeding on tundra in the high Arctic and wintering along temperate and tropical coasts. Preflight fueling rate is a major determinant of successful migration, yet individual fueling rates are impossible to determine because Red Knots cannot be recaptured easily. These problems can be overc...
Article
Exogenous administration of glucocorticoids is a widely used and efficient tool to investigate the effects of elevated concentrations of these hormones in field studies. Because the effects of corticosterone are dose and duration-dependent, the exact course of plasma corticosterone levels after exogenous administration needs to be known. We tested...
Article
Behavioral and physiological responses to unpredictable changes in environmental conditions are, in part, mediated by glucocorticoids (corticosterone in birds). In polymorphic species, individuals of the same sex and age display different heritable melanin-based color morphs, associated with physiological and reproductive parameters and possibly al...
Article
The temporal pattern of migration by passerine birds during the night, and their arrival during the day at the Egyptian coast and in the northern Sahara Desert was investigated. The mean direction of nocturnal migration at the coast was south-southeast, while at all desert sites it was south-southwest.Birds arrived at the Egyptian coast only during...
Article
The efficiency of the analysis of faeces and flushes of the digestive tract was examined by feeding captive Garden Warblers Sylvia borin and Blackcaps S. atricapilla with different food types (arthropods, fruits). Faecal analysis underestimated aphids; the analysis of flushes overestimated beetles and underestimated aphids and fruits. Correction fa...
Article
The handicap principle of sexual selection theory states that colourful phenotypic traits signal aspects of individual quality because only individuals in prime condition can afford to produce and bear conspicuous traits. Melanin-based pigments participate in the elaboration of many secondary sexual characters and, given their role in sexual select...
Article
1. Human outdoor recreational activities are increasing and have a significant impact on wildlife. There are few methods suitable for investigating the response of rare and endangered species to human recreational activities, although the impact can be assessed at various scales by measuring both physiological and behavioural responses to disturban...
Article
The Western Capercaillie is a forest grouse known to be sensitive to disturbance and with requirements for high-quality habitats. During the last decades, habitat quality strongly declined while recreation activities significantly increased. This study confirmed that Capercaillie strongly respond to humans, especially to off-trail winter recreation...
Article
Parents feeding altricial nestlings have to trade-off the competing demands of self-maintenance and reproductive investment over their lifetime. Corticosterone, a glucocorticoid hormone released by birds in response to stressors, might play a key role in regulating parental investment when conditions unexpectedly deteriorate. However, birds breedin...
Article
Little is known about whether adaptations to an insular life also involve adaptations in basal corticosterone levels or in the adrenocortical stress response, thus being part of a genetically based island syndrome. However, differences in corticosterone between island and mainland may also be a direct phenotypic response to differences in environme...
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Stress generated by humans on wildlife by continuous development of outdoor recreational activities is of increasing concern for biodiversity conservation. Human disturbance often adds to other negative impact factors affecting the dynamics of vulnerable populations. It is not known to which extent the rapidly spreading free-riding snow sports actu...
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Heavy physical work can result in physiological stress and suppressed immune function. Accordingly, long-distance migrant birds that fly for thousands of km within days can be expected to show immunosuppression, and hence be more vulnerable to infections en route. The red knot Calidris canutus Linnaeus is a long-distance migrant shorebird. We flew...
Article
Birds may react to the presence of humans with an immediate primary behavioural reaction and with physiological responses, such as the activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. This study investigates the suite of behavioural and adrenocortical responses to the presence of humans and to handling in two subspecies of blue tits Parus caer...
Article
In 2002, a workshop entitled "Adaptations and Constraints in Avian Reproduction: Integrating Ecology and Endocrinology" took place in Wageningen, the Nether- lands. The aim of the workshop was to build a network between scientists of differ- ent disciplines to exchange their knowledge and methods. This initiative resulted in the formation of the E-...
Article
The continuous development of tourism and related leisure activities is exerting an increasingly intense pressure on wildlife. In this study, a novel noninvasive method for measuring stress in the black grouse, an endangered, emblematic species of European ecosystems that is currently declining in several parts of its European range, is tested and...
Article
The capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), the largest grouse species in the world, is decreasing in numbers in major parts of its distribution range. Disturbances by human outdoor activities are discussed as a possible reason for this population decline. An indicator for disturbances is the increase of the glucocorticoid corticosterone, a stress hormone...
Article
Small passerine migrants perform endurance flights while fasting, in spite of having one of the highest mass-specific energy rates among vertebrates. For this demanding performance they need large energy stores during the flight which need to be mobilized efficiently, as well as the ability to build-up energy reserves quickly at resting sites durin...
Chapter
During migration, most birds alternate between stopovers, when fuel stores are built up, and flight bouts, when fuel stores are partly or completely consumed. At the energetic level, it is evident that the two alternating phases are interdependent. Flight can only be fuelled by stores acquired during previous stopovers (A in Fig. 1). Therefore, man...
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This study examines fuel use and metabolism in a group of long-distance migrating birds, red knots Calidris canutus (Scolopacidae), flying under controlled conditions in a wind tunnel for up to 10 h. Data are compared with values for resting birds fasting for the same time. Plasma levels of free fatty acids, glycerol and uric acid were elevated dur...
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Seasonal variation in plasma concentrations of the two thyroid hormones T3 (triiodthyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) was studied in captive flocks of two subspecies of Red Knot: Calidris canutus canutus, wintering in tropical West Africa and C. c. islandica, wintering in temperate (northwest) Europe. For more than 1.5 years in outdoor aviaries both grou...
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Migrant birds have tightly scheduled annual cycles consisting of several distinct life cycle (sub-)stages such as reproduction, migration, moult and overwintering, each of which have specific metabolic requirements (e.g., fattening during migration, protein build-up during moult). This study examines changes in fat and protein metabolism during the...
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This study investigated the postexercise metabolism of six species of free-living, night-migrating passerine birds (European robin, pied flycatcher, wheatear, redstart, blackcap, and garden warbler). The birds were caught during autumn migration out of their nocturnal flight, and their metabolism changed from a fasting, highly active state to a fas...
Article
Energy management for endurance flight critically determines the ecological options in the life history of migrant birds. Apart from the amount of energy stores, the types of fuel used and metabolic constraints determine endurance performance in long-distance migrants. The three main types of fuel (lipids, glycogen, protein) are evaluated regarding...