• The complete mitochondrial genome and phylogenetic position of the critically endangered Trinidad Piping Guan, Pipile pipile synonym Aburria pipile (Aves: Galliformes).

      Grass, Amelia; Hosie, Charlotte A.; McDowall, Ian; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2016-09-04)
      The complete mitochondrial genome of the Critically Endangered Trinidad Piping Guan, Pipile pipile (Jacquin 1784) synonym Aburria pipile was sequenced for the first time in this study. The genome is 16,665 bp in length with overall base compositions of 30.1, 23.7, 32.3 and 13.9% for A, T, C, and G, respectively. Structurally, the P. pipile mitogenome is comparable to that of other Galliformes, thereby demonstrating typical avian gene organization. The mitogenome was subsequently used to produce a revised phylogenetic placement of P. pipile within the Galliforme order, positioning the Pipile genus basal within the Cracidae family. It is further envisaged that this novel genomic data will contribute to a wider understanding of genetic relationships within the genus Pipile and the analysis of the evolutionary relationships of the Galliforme order in a wider avian context.
    • Crassula helmsii in U.K. ponds: Effects on plant biodiversity and implications for newt conservation

      Langdon, Samantha J.; Marrs, Robert H.; Hosie, Charlotte A.; McAllister, Hugh A.; Norris, Karen M.; Potter, Jacqueline; University College Chester (Weed Science Society of America, 2009-06-15)
      We conducted preliminary investigations into some of the potential effects of Australian swamp stonecrop, a nonnative invasive aquatic plant in the U.K., on native pond plants and newt populations. Four studies were carried out in the northwest of England, in the field and under controlled conditions, during the period 2002 to 2003. Six plant species, which are important to newts as an egg-laying substrate, showed significant germination suppression up to 83% under Australian swamp stonecrop. However, there was no significant effect of Australian swamp stonecrop on pond seed banks, and no significant loss of plant species was observed in ponds invaded by the weed. Smooth newt eggs hatched at a later developmental stage when laid on Australian swamp stonecrop compared with those laid on the native substrate watercress, generally considered to be a preferred species. No significant differences in developmental stage at hatching could be detected between substrates in the great crested newt, a protected species.
    • Effects of transportation, transport medium and re-housing on Xenopus laevis (Daudin)

      Holmes, Andrew M.; Emmans, Christopher J.; Coleman, Robert C.; Smith, Tessa E.; Hosie, Charlotte A.; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2018-03-12)
      Understanding the immediate and longer-term effects of transportation and re-housing in a laboratory species is crucial in order to refine the transfer process, enable the optimal introduction of new animals to a novel environment and to provide a sufficient acclimatisation period before usage. Whilst consideration of animal welfare in most model vertebrate species has received attention, little quantitative evidence exists for the optimal care of the common laboratory amphibian Xenopus laevis. Techniques for the non-invasive welfare assessment of amphibians are also limited and here a non-invasive physiological assay was developed to investigate the impacts of transportation, transport medium and re-housing on X. laevis. First the impacts of transportation and transport medium (water, damp sponge or damp sphagnum moss) were investigated. Transportation caused an increase in waterborne corticosterone regardless of transport medium. Frogs transported in damp sphagnum moss also had a greater decrease in body mass in comparison to frogs not transported, suggesting that this is the least suitable transport medium for X. laevis. Next the prolonged impacts of transportation and re-housing were investigated. Frogs were transported between research facilities with different housing protocols. Samples were collected prior to and immediately following transportation, as well as 1 day, 7 days and 35 days after re-housing. Water-borne corticosterone increased following transportation and remained high for at least 7 days, decreasing to baseline levels by 35 days. Body mass decreased following transportation and remained lower than baseline levels across the entire 35 day observation period. These findings suggest the process of transportation and re-housing is stressful in this species. Together these findings have important relevance for both improving animal welfare and ensuring optimal and efficient scientific research.
    • Impact of tank background on the welfare of the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis (Daudin)

      Holmes, Andrew M.; Emmans, Christopher J.; Jones, Niall; Coleman, Robert C.; Smith, Tessa E.; Hosie, Charlotte A.; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2016-09-14)
      The captive environment of a laboratory animal can profoundly influence its welfare and the scientific validity of research produced. The African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) is a common model organism, however current husbandry guidelines lack supporting quantitative evidence. The visual environment is a fundamental aspect of a captive animal’s housing and may affect a number of physiological and behavioural responses. This is particularly important for species such as X. laevis where cryptic camouflage is a fundamental defence mechanism. Here male (n = 16) and female (n = 20) X. laevis were housed in tanks with ecologically relevant (black) and non-relevant (white) background colours and physiological and behavioural responses observed. Higher levels of water-borne corticosterone were observed in tanks with a white background compared to a black background in females (p = 0.047). Increased atypical active behaviours (Swimming: p = 0.042; Walling: p = 0.042) and a greater degree of body mass loss (p < 0.001) were also observed in the white background condition. Together these responses are indicative of increased stress of X. laevis when housed in tanks with a non-ecologically relevant background compared to an ecologically relevant background and suggest refined tank background colour may improve welfare in this species.
    • A quantified ethogram for oviposition in triturus newts: Description and comparison of T. helveticus and T. vulgaris

      Norris, Karen M.; Hosie, Charlotte A.; University of Chester (Ethologische Gesellschaft e.V., 2005-03-25)
      Female newts of the genus Triturus deposit and wrap their eggs individually in the submerged leaves of aquatic macrophytes. Although this behaviour has previously been described, the different elements of the oviposition process have not been fully characterized nor any attempt made to quantify the behavioural elements. The study examined the oviposition behaviour of the two similarly sized species, Triturus helveticus and T. vulgaris on a standardized substrate macrophyte, Rorippa nasturtium–aquaticum. Continuous focal sampling was used to develop a baseline of discrete behavioural elements enabling quantification and comparison of oviposition behaviour between the two species. The results showed that the same pattern of elements was followed for each egg laid and the same key elements of the process were present in each newt species. Although these are broadly similar in size, there were striking differences in certain aspects of the oviposition sequence between the two species. Key findings were that leaf sniffing and leaf flexing and a measure of the duration of ovipositing were all significantly greater in females of T. helveticus and females of T. vulgaris laid significantly more eggs than those of T. helveticus in a standard observation period. The work presented here defines a baseline ethogram and shows how it can be used to reveal quantifiable differences in closely related species. This demonstrates its value in furthering our understanding of oviposition – a key aspect of female behaviour currently understudied in Triturus behavioural ecology, despite its intrinsic interest and value in understanding recruitment and maintenance of populations.