Health in arctic and antarctic breeding birds

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Barbosa Alcn, Andres add reaction to this message
Hi everybody, I write you to communicate that our specific project for the IPY Birdhealth has been accepted and it will be funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. In this project we applied for money to do analyses of contaminants together with screening of several diseases in penguins. This money will be added to the amount of money we had previously to take data on parasites and immunity of antarctic penguins. We have now published a paper about geographical variation in immunoglobulins in penguins, although the data were taken three years ago I think it can be considered under the spirit of the Birdhealth project. PDF under downloads.
Best wishes for this summer.
Loonen, Maarten add reaction to this message
A taste of fieldwork, you can find on the weblog of the Netherlands Arctic Station in Spitsbergen:
Loonen, Maarten add reaction to this message
A minisymposium on Avian Influenze organised at the University of Wageningen, The Netherlands. More information:
Dolnik, Olga add reaction to this message
Hi everyone! On the Birdhealth Meeting in Groningen in March 2006 I gave the sampling protocol (it is very simple even for field conditions) for Coccidia parasites to those who were interested. If anyone else has interest in collaboration on Coccidiosis, please contact me directly (, we can discuss the sampling, goals ets. Cheers! Olga
Loonen, Maarten add reaction to this message
Workshop 22-24 March 2006 in Groningen. Please join a.s.a.p.

Read more about project proposals in the Netherlands under the news-button.

Lanctot, Rick: reaction on previous text
 Dear Maarten, I do not have the funds to join you at your workshop (much less the time). However, if you and the rest of the colleagues come up with some easy, and practical way that folks in North America can provide information to your project please let us know. We anticipate capturing a large number of birds this coming summer as part of an evaluation on whether shorebirds are bringing the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian virus to the United States. Thus, we plan to capture several hundred dunlin, pectoral sandpiper, bar-tailed godwit, sharp-tailed sandpipers, and 6 other species.
Right now, I am trying to envision a wider application to this capture. We could likely sample the birds for other things if the methods were easy to implement and had a clear goal in site. Cheers, Rick
Boulinier, Thierry: reaction on previous text
 Dear Maarten and others, All that seems great. Thanks for organizing the workshop in Groningen. We should be able to have one of us participating. I can recall that we are interested in the evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions, using seabirds as models. Two main axes of our work are (1) the evolutionary ecology of host specialisation, with the seabird-tick system as a model (e.g., McCoy al. 2005 Proc Roy Soc B), and (2) the evolutionary ecology of the maternal transfer of antibodies (e.g., Gasparini et al. 2001, Proc Roy Soc B). We are working notably in Northern Norway, in collaboration with Torkild Tveraa, and we are both interested in(i) increasing our sampling of seabird ticks _Ixodes uriae_ and blood plasma from various locations/host species (we can send our simple sampling protocole upon request), and (ii) contributing to sampling in arctic seabird colonies for other groups (e.g., the Coccidiosis study of Olga Dolnik). I guess the workshop should be the occasion to discuss these things together, but I agree with Rick (Lanctot) that we should make sure that the potential contributions of people who will not attend the meeting are considered. Andres, if you think you can put your hands on penguin ticks, we would be very interested by those! Cheers, Thierry Boulinier (+ Karen McCoy, Vincent Staszewski and others)
Braune, Birgit: reaction on previous text
 Dear Maarten, Although I was originally planning to propose some work on effects of contaminants in arctic seabirds, I will no longer be pursuing that work. However, I will still be looking at contaminants in selected seabird species and their prey. If someone else wishes to utilize the birds collected (thick-billed murres, and possibly northern fulmars), for pathological or parasitological studies, they should contact Tony Gaston, who is organizing the collections.
Jenkins, Emily: reaction on previous text
 Hi Maarten,
Unfortunately the dates don't work for me, but I am definitely interested in the outcome of the meeting (ie a standardized protocol). Here is what we have for a Canadian sampling plan (based on the very helpful documents that you sent):

Potential parameters to measure (live, hunter-killed, and found-dead birds):

Parasites: Ectoparasites (ticks, lice, fleas), coccidiosis, intestinal parasites, hemoparasites, tissue parasites (Toxoplasma, Sarcocystis)

Bacteria: Pasteurella multocida - avian cholera, zoonotic bacteria including Campylobacter, Salmonella, Borrelia burgdorferi

Viruses: avian influenza, West Nile Virus, Avian paramyxovirus - Newcastle's Disease

Immunity: White blood cell counts and differential, overall antibody levels and specific response to antigen challenge, measure of cell mediated immunity (phytohaemagglutinin in wing web skin) and innate immunity (chemiluminescence)

Contaminants (preening gland wax for fat-soluble POP's; liver, kidney... integrate with COPOL?)

Fitness: survival, clutch size, number of fledglings, offspring survival, body condition, social hierarchy),

Sampling protocol (to be standardized at workshop Mar 22-24, 2006 in Netherlands).
*Body condition
*Cloacal swabs/feces (virology, bacteriology, parasitology)
*Nasopharyngeal swabs (virology, bacteriology)
*Blood (serology, hemoparasites, pathogens, CBC)
*Biomarkers of stress
*Immune function
*Post mortem and pathogen recovery

All the best, Emily Jenkins
Loonen, Maarten add reaction to this message
The call by NWO for tyhe IPY is out. I want to bring together all Dutch partners and provide better information via our website

Deadline for full proposal IPY Netherlands 18 January 2005
Proposed meeting of Dutch participants: one day in Groningen (Aweg 30) between 7 and 12 January 2005, inclusive
Proposed meeting international partners 23-24 March 2005

For the meeting of Dutch partners:
The group has a broad expertise and I think we can state that the Netherlands has a long tradition in arctic bird research. We have to discuss themes (see belowe), tasks (who is doing what), money dependencies (how much do we rely on IPY funding) and funding programmes (IPY, STW open call, NWO open call, ministery of agriculture).

Themes to discuss:
Monitoring: develop a sampling protocol, where to sample, how will analyse
Model species: barnacle geese, brent geese, pinkfooted goose, bewicks swan
Field sites: Spitsbergen, Taymir, Petsjora
Ecological immunology
Parasitology: coccidiosis, cestodes, nematodes ecto-parasites
Virusses: avian influenzea, newcastle disease, west nile virus
Pollution levels
Use of dead birds
Modelling: when?
Andres, Barbosa: reaction on previous text
 Hi everyone, The dates for the international meeting in March are good for me. Merry chritsmas and happy new year Andres
Dolnik, Olga: reaction on previous text
 Hi everyone! 23-24 March is fine for me, too. See you there. Merry Christmas! Olga
Dolnik, Olga add reaction to this message
As my part of the project I am planning checking the birds for intestinal parasites, in particular Coccidiosis. I do not know what kind of sampling you do (blood, feathers, faeces, etc.), I just thought may be it makes sense if I can join it so that I get faeces samples of your birds (if you do not need them by your own) to check for Coccidiosis. It would be easier for me to get the money if I don't have to include my travel costs to every project site, and for you it will be additional money for sampling, and we can publish the results together. The data of Coccidia infection (Coccidia species, prevalence and intensity) may be put together with the other data on birds state and health, separate or as a general picture (as age and body mass, other parasite infections, survival and predator risk, number of eggs, chicks, survival of chicks, contamination and many others). I hope at least part of our project can become a complex study made by a team of specialists from different fields. Many thanks to Maarten for starting this work! The very best for you all, Cheers Olga Dolnik
barbosa, andres add reaction to this message
Dear Maarten and everyone, Thank you for the info. I agree with you that a lot of work is needed to implement the project. I have already financial support for our sampling in Antarctic within our current project, however in December the Spanish government will release an special call for the IPY and we will apply demanding money for new analyses not included in the current project. The sample sites are already defined. They are as follows including the species that will be sampled: Cove Potter, King George island (6215S 5837W). P. antarctica, P. papua, P. adeliae Hannah Point, Linvingston Island (6239S 6036W), P.papua Deception island(6300S 6040W), P. antartica George Point, Ronge Island (6440S 6240W), P. antartica, P.papua Yalour Island (6446S 6404W), P. adeliae Avian Island (6746S 6843W), P. adeliae Cheers, Andres
Loonen, Maarten add reaction to this message
Our full proposal is endorsed by the International IPY commitee (see letter). Now we have to proceed. In Canada there is already a deadline for proposals on 30 Nov 2005. Other countries will have calls early next year.
We need to increase our chances for funding by creating a proposal database with phrasings and literature which we can use for funding purposes on a national level.
We need to develop the project further by defining our expertise and commitments.
We have to make a list of potential field sites already to be sampled in 2006.
I will develop a password protected structure on our project page within a week. For earlier comments and reactions, use this forum.
Loonen, Maarten add reaction to this message
The original deadline for full proposals (30 June 2005) is extended. We have to develop a full proposal. From the international IPY I have heard that clustering is needed. But funding needs to come from national organisations. However international approval helps. So I have been think about clustering and tried to make a few contacts. If anyone has a reaction at the moment, please post it here. On the proposal: we will also include contaminants as factors which interact with health. Furthermore, we will change arctic to polar so antarctic studies can be included too.
Lanctot, Richard: reaction on previous text
 Maarten, I think the low response to your inquiry comes from people being in the field rather than a lack of interest. I am just back for a week before heading out again. I think your approach of combining projects through this web site is the best you can do, short of a formal meeting of principal investigators. I also think people are hesitant to put too much time into this project given that no funds have been obligated and that we might simply get a nod of approval. Having said this, I wanted you to know that I can collect health data on shorebirds in Barrow, Alaska, and indeed, this year we are collecting samples for testing avian influenza. This is our third year of our project so we are also in the position to study the effects of health problems on the survival of a few species with high site fidelity. I noticed in your original proposal that you did not state much in the methods about how we would measure adult survival, although this is a stated goal in the original plan abstract. Anyway, please let me know how I can help. I am away from 22 June to 8 July but then back the remaining part of July and early August.
Barbosa, Andres: reaction on previous text
 Hi Maarten, It is very interesting to include the study of contaminants and their effects on immunity and to include antarctic birds as well. I am now working with variation in heat shock proteins in several species of antarctic penguins. The variation in these proteins is usually related with contamination. I think your idea of the umbrella proposal relating bird studies and changing environment (climate change?) is fine. I also include two more EOIs that could be related 356 and 379. From the Spanish national commeettee I know that it will be an special call for projects related to proposals included in the IPY.
Wayland, Mark add reaction to this message
Dr. Loonen: I am possibly interested in joining your proposal, if you would have me, but need to know the implications in doing so, from a work load perspective. What are the expectations of researchers involved in the IPY? Also, I work with the Canadian Wildlife Service and one of our scientists is preparing a 'seabird' proposal that I could also possibly join. My field research (started in 2004 and will to continue until 2007 inclusive)is examining the health of glaucous gull chicks in relation to contaminant levels in their tissues. The study is being done in the Canadian arctic. I am looking, among other things, at immune function, using the skin swelling response to PHA and the primary immune response to sheep red blood cell injection. I may modify my project to include more sensitive antigens, depending on the possibility of finding collaborators trained in doing ELISA and who also have a supply of antibodies that will react with gull antibodies.
Loonen, Maarten: reaction on previous text
 Dear Mark, I think your project fits beautifully. There is no commitment yet into joining. The list of interested people will be used to show the importance of the project and people will stay informed of every step. Later, more work might be needed, but you can always decide to redraw your partnership.
Savinova, Tatiana add reaction to this message
Hei Maarten, proposed project looks very interesting - good work! I am writing to you in order to raise a question, which is extremely important, on my opinion, for birds from the Arctic regions - interaction between environmental contaminants and parasite invasion, especially during the breeding season when the lipids redistribution (and contaminants incorporated into the lipids) took place. There were several publications shown a very good correlation between persistent organic contaminant levels and parasite invasion. Our institute Akvaplan-niva, has been cooperating with the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Russian research institutes (Murmansk Marine Biological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences and Typhoon, Russian Federal Service on Hydrometeorology and Monitoring) in studying contaminants and parasites in Svalbard marine birds. I think it will be benefit for the project, if you will add to you project plan some contaminant studies. At least for Svalbard region, where marine birds have quite elevated levels of different types of established POPs (pesticides, PCBs etc.) and, so-called, a new compounds (PCDD/PCDFs, PBDEs, toxaphene etc.) and where were done some researches on Glaucous Gull immune systems response to contaminant levels, these studies will bring a good results. If you will find this suggestion interesting, I will be glad to contribute to the project and participate in it together with 2 Russian partners. You can contact me by phone or e-mail. Regards and good luck with the proposal, Tatiana Savinova, Ph.D. Research Scientist/Senior Consultant Akvaplan-niva, Polar Environmental Centre N-9296, Tromsoe, Norway tel. +47 77750347 fax +47 77750301 Home +47 77640582 Mob. +47 99404532 e-mail
Loonen, Maarten: reaction on previous text
 Dear Tatiana, for the final plan in June, we have to think about adding the realtion between contaminants and immune system. Sofar, several people who have joined have stated contaminents as their interest. Important in the whole project will be to use marked individuals for experiments to test any relation.

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