Cover image for Vol. 157 Issue 1

Edited By: Paul F. Donald (Editor in Chief)

Impact Factor: 1.861

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 4/21 (Ornithology)

Online ISSN: 1474-919X

Editors' Choice

Highlighted articlesHighlights from the latest issue:

The October issue of IBIS contains 12 full papers and 5 short communications.

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The importance of fission–fusion social group dynamics in birds
Matthew J. Silk, Darren P. Croft, Tom Tregenza and Stuart Bearhop (Ibis 156: 701-715)

Our Review in this issue covers the dynamics and importance of non-stable or temporary groups of birds, both single species and multi-species. Covering everything from mixed feeding flocks in tropical forests to huge evening roosts of Starlings, Matthew Silk and colleagues at the University of Exeter, UK, argue that such aggregations have profound implications on a range of demographic, behavioural and evolutionary processes, and that a better understanding of the decisons made by birds about whether to join or leave such flocks could fundamentally alter our knowledge of issues as diverse as disease epidemiology and the evolution of sociality. The authors argue that avian systems present a very wide range of different temporary aggregations of animals, which serve many functions, and that advances in technology are constantly improving our ability to study them.

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Other highlights

Geolocator tagging reveals Pacific migration of Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus breeding in Scotland
Malcolm Smith, Mark Bolton, David J. Okill, Ron W. Summers, Pete Ellis, Felix Liechti and Jeremy D. Wilson

It is not often that we feature a Short Communication among our featured highlights, and rarer still that we publish any paper in Ibis with a sample size of just one, but the paper by the RSPB’s Malcom Smith and colleagues presents truly extraordinary results. Smith and colleagues fitted geolocators to a number of Red-necked Phalaropes breeding on the island of Fetlar in the Shetland Isles of northern Scotland, retreiving a single tag the following year. The data the tag contained indicated that instead of heading SE in the autumn to join other Palearctic breeding populations in the Arabian Sea, the bird headed NW to the eastern seaboard of N America, then down into the Caribbean and across Central America to the Pacific, wintering off the coast of Peru. This migration was at least 60% longer than that needed to reach the Arabian Sea, and indicated that the small British population of this species, and by extension perhaps also the much larger Icelandic population, belong to the American and not the Palearctic breeding metapopulation. Never before can a single tag have generated so much remarkable information!
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Mitochondrial phylogeography of the Eurasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus and the first genetic record of A. s. fuscus in Central Europe
Tayebeh Arbabi, Javier Gonzalez, Hans-Hinrich Witt, Rolf Klein and Michael Wink

The cryptic birds that comprise the Acrocephalidae have long fascinated ornithologists and have become something of a model system in evolution and behaviour. In this issue, Tayebeh Arbabi and colleagues at the University of Heidelberg in Germany analyse the genetics of Eurasian Reed Warblers across their wide range. They identify three groups relating to the subspecies fuscus (Asia), scirpaceus (Europe and N Africa) and avicenniae (E Africa and SW Asia). Their analyses indicate that the basal group is avicenniae, which probably branched from the African Reed Warbler about 700 000 years ago and survived the last glaciation in a refugium in Africa, perhaps in Ethiopia. Divergence of the other subspecies is thought to have stated about half a million years ago. In their analyses of samples, the authors stumbled across the first European record of fuscus, and perhaps rather alarmingly found that a significant proportion of the birds they analysed were not Reed Warblers but Marsh Warblers, a cautionary tale for those working on this complex group.
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Prolonged and flexible primary moult overlaps extensively with breeding in beach-nesting Hooded Plovers Thinornis rubricollis
Ken G. Rogers, Danny I. Rogers and Michael A. Weston

Moult of the main flight feathers is a dangerous and energetically costly process, so birds usually delay it until the breeding season is over and the young are independent. For species that can breed year-round, and have high nest failure rates, this presents a problem, since separating moult from breeding means that birds have to decide either to stop laying replacement clutches or delay moult. Working on the threatened Hooded Plover in southern Australia, Michael Weston and colleagues have discovered a previously undescribed moult strategy that allows birds to moult while they continue breeding, such that breeding and moult can overlap almost completely. Hooded Plovers appear to have a strategy that permits two types of wing moult, fast moult to replace feathers while the birds are not breeding and slow moult to allow resources to be diverted to breeding. This flexible moult pattern allows birds to continue replacing lost clutches and so helps it adapt to an open habitat
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