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Unhatched chicks vibrate to warn nestmates of predators
Chicks that have yet to hatch from their eggs warn nestmates of potential predators by vibrating in their shells.
Researchers expose wild-caught eggs to recordings of alarm calls

Chicks that have yet to hatch from their eggs warn nestmates of potential predators by vibrating in their shells, according to new research.

The study, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, exposed wild-caught eggs to audio playbacks of predator alarm calls. Researchers found that when exposed to the audio, the unborn chicks wiggled inside their shells to indicate a possible threat to their siblings.

The study was led by the Animal Ecology Group at the University of Vigo, Spain.

Lead author Jose Noguera told The Guardian: “We were very surprised. We were aware that bird embryos were able to produce egg vibrations, [but they vibrated] even more than we expected.”

In the study, researchers collected 90 eggs from yellow-legged gulls living on Sálvora Island, Spain. They then divided the eggs into nests of three.

Six days before hatching, the team temporarily removed two of the three eggs in each nest and played them a recording of either white noise or an alarm call. They delivered the noise four times every day, for three minutes each time, until the chicks hatched.

Researchers found that the chicks reacted to the audio by making less noise but vibrating more. This information also seemed to be transmitted to the third egg, still in the nest, which appeared to copy the vibrations.

“This kind of transfer of information – embryo to embryo – can induce developmental changes that can have potential benefits [to the birds] after hatching,” said Noguera.

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Zoo animals step on the scales for annual weigh-in

News Story 1
 Squirrel monkeys, penguins and meerkats are just some of the animals that stepped on the scales on Thursday (22 August) for the start of ZSL London Zoo’s annual weigh-in.

The annual event gives keepers a chance to check the animals in their care are healthy, eating well and growing at the correct weight. Keepers say that a growing waistline can also help them to detect pregnancies, which is vital as many of the species at the zoo are endangered.

The data is then added to a database shared with zoos and conservationists across the globe. This helps keepers to compare information and provide better care for the species they are fighting to protect.  

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Professor Abdul Rahman announced as keynote speaker for BVA Members’ Day 2019

Celebrated Indian vet and parasitologist Professor Abdul Rahman is set to deliver the keynote speech at BVA Members’ Day 2019.

Professor Rahman will present his insights into the human behaviour challenges of controlling zoonotic disease in his talk: ‘A One Health approach to rabies elimination in Asia’. The talk will outline efforts to gain political support for dog vaccination programmes in China, as well as the need for a collaborative approach between vets, public health, livestock and animal welfare agencies.

The event takes place on Thursday, 19 September at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. Tickets are free but must be reserved through the BVA website as places are limited.