AFAR Phased Return

AFAR is in the process of a phased return to research activity following Western’s Return to Campus Plan and the Western Animal Care Committee’s Research Recovery Plan.  Some behavioural research has resumed along with some histology and microscopy work.

Congratulations Gloria Cho!

Congratulations to Gloria on a successful defense today of her Master’s thesis in Psychology on dominance rank and cognitive ability in flocks of black-capped chickadees.

Copyright Cjoshua05

New paper with Brazilian colleagues

A new paper has just been published with colleagues at the Instituto Federal de Educação Ciência e Tecnologia do Pará and the Universidade Federal do Pará – including Cristovam Diniz, Nara Magalhães, Cristovam W.P. Diniz, and others – in which they show that hippocampal astrocytes are differentially affected during autumn migration in two long distance migratory shorebirds, a trans-Atlantic migrant, the semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) and an overland migrant, the semipalmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus).

Henrique, E.P., de Oliveira, M.A., Carvalho Paulo, D., Pereira, P.D.C., Dias, C., de Siqueira, L.S., de Lima, C.M., de Almeida Miranda, D., do Rego, P.S., Araripe, J., de Melo, M.A.D., Diniz, D.G., de Morais Magalhães, N.G., Sherry, D.F., Diniz, C.W.P., Diniz, C.G. (2020). Contrasting migratory journeys and changes in hippocampal astrocyte morphology in shorebirds. European Journal of Neuroscience doi: 10.1111/ejn.14781

Sophie, Tanya, Jeff and Sue’s new paper

Sophie Edwards, Tanya Shoot, and Jeff Martin’s new paper with Sue Healy on nest building has just appeared online.  They show that zebra finches not only build larger nests at low temperatures but also modify their nest building according to previous breeding success.  Unsuccessful birds build larger warmer nests on their next attempt regardless of temperature and have greater breeding success as a result.

Edwards, S.C., Shoot, T.T., Martin, R.J., Sherry, D.F. & Healy, S.D. (2020). It’s not all about temperature: breeding success also affects nest design. Behavioral Ecology doi:10.1093/beheco/araa052

Jordan and Caroline’s new paper

Jordan Phelps and Caroline Strang’s new paper has just been published in which they show that  bumblebees exposed to field realistic levels of the neonicotinoid pesticide imidacloprid are slower to learn a task that simulates flower handling.

Phelps, J. D., Strang, C. G., & Sherry, D. F. (2020). Imidacloprid impairs performance on a model flower handling task in bumblebees (Bombus impatiens). Ecotoxicology, 29, 359-374. doi:10.1007/s10646-020-02182-8

Jeff and Charlotte’s new paper

Jeff Martin and Charlotte Kruger’s new paper has appeared in which they show that over-winter temperature can modulate the onset of reproduction in photostimulated  black-capped chickadees.

Martin, R. J., Kruger, M. C., MacDougall-Shackleton, S. A., & Sherry, D. F. (2020). Black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) use temperature as a cue for reproductive timing. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 287. doi:10.1016/j.ygcen.2019.113348


In response to COVID-19, Western University moved on March 23 2020 to essential services only on campus. Research at AFAR has been suspended.  All birds at AFAR  continue to receive full maintenance, care, and heath monitoring from animal care staff.