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Birds

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

1987

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Olfactory Discrimination Of Plant Volatiles By The European Starling, Larry Clark, J Russell Mason Jan 1987

Olfactory Discrimination Of Plant Volatiles By The European Starling, Larry Clark, J Russell Mason

Larry Clark

Passerine species that re-use nest sites often incorporate fresh green vegetation into their nests, a behaviour consistent with the possibility that some birds may use chemical properties of plants to counteract the selective potential of parasites and pathogens. We tested adult starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) for their physiological capacity and behavioural ability to detect and discriminate between volatiles emitted from plant material. Multi-unit electrophysiological recordings from olfactory nerves of adults indicated that strong responses were reliably elicited by volatiles from six plant species. After pairings of plant volatiles with gastro-intestinal malaise, birds exhibited conditioned avoidance in behavioural experiments, and made all ...