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Posts from the ‘Mulder Lab Research’ Category

Australian Magpie Cracticus tibicen

Urban areas worldwide are expanding at unprecedented rates, often with devastating consequences to wildlife. Humans generate various forms of urban pollution that impact wildlife, including anthropogenic noise and artificial light at night. The effect such pollutants have on wildlife physiology and behaviour has been extensively studied, but their impact on cognitive performance and sleep remains poorly understood. Using Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen) as a study species, my research looks to provide insight into these unknowns. My research is split into two categories: cognitive performance and sleep.

Cognitive Performance: Utilizing field and captive based cognitive testing, I am exploring the effect anthropogenic noise has on cognitive performance in magpies. Recent evidence suggests that birds from urban and rural environments differ in cognitive performance. This outcome is plausible because anthropogenic stressors are known to disrupt developmental processes including cognitive development, but to my knowledge no study has yet to investigate the relationship between anthropogenic noise and cognitive performance. Cognitive function directly impacts every aspect of an animal’s fitness and it is therefore imperative that we disentangle the mechanisms driving changes to cognition performance in urban environments, and explore possible solutions to mitigate these impacts.

Sleep: Using a wild caught, captive population I am looking at the impact noise and artificial light at night has on sleep in magpies. As far as we know sleep occurs in all animals, is directly associated with health and is essential for life. While humans have noise cancelling headphones, double panned windows, and black out curtains to block out the world outside, urban wildlife doesn’t; and instead are forced to deal with the chaos that comes with living in a city. My work is explores the effect noise and different wavelengths of light have on sleep in magpies.

Researcher profile:
This work is part of Farley’s PhD thesis and conducted in part with John Lesku’s Lab at La Trobe University. More information about Farely can be found on the People page.

Lovely fairy-wren Malurus amabilis

Elaborate traits, such as plumage colours or complex song are generally regarded as male traits...

Selected publication:
Leitão, AV et al. (2019) Ani. Behav.

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Black swan Cygnus atratus and domestic pigeons Columba livia

Artificial light at night is one of the most pervasive, yet underappreciated, threats to birds worldwide...

Selected publication:
Aulsebrooke, AE et al. (2015) J Exp. Zool. A Ecol. Integr. Physiol.

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Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus

It has been shown in many animal species that individuals behave consistently differently from each other, a phenomenon better known as animal personality...

Selected publication:
Hall, ML et al. (2015) Front. Ecol. Evol.

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Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus

The superb fairy-wren is a cooperatively breeding species and much of our work has been based around their interesting mating system...

Selected publication:
Mulder, RA & Magrath, MJ (1994) Behav. Ecol.

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Black swan Cygnus atratus

Our research into the ecology of black swans has incorporated studies into mating systems, communication, and response to disturbance...

Selected publication:
Payne, CJ, Jessop, TJ, Guay, P-J, Johnstone, M, Feore, M & Mulder, RA (2012) PLoS ONE

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Silvereye Zosterops lateralis

Our research into the silvereye examined environmental effects on song dialects, particularly looking at the effect of urbanisation...

Selected publication:
Potvin, DA, Parris, KM & Mulder, RA (2013) Evol. Ecol.

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