Publications by authors named "H W Symonds"

77 Publications

Infanticide in a mammal-eating killer whale population.

Sci Rep 2018 03 20;8(1):4366. Epub 2018 Mar 20.

Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 3190 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo, BC, V9T 6N7, Canada.

Infanticide can be an extreme result of sexual conflict that drives selection in species in which it occurs. It is a rarely observed behaviour but some evidence for its occurrence in cetaceans exists in three species of dolphin. Here we describe observations of an adult male killer whale (Orcinus orca) and his post-reproductive mother killing a neonate belonging to an unrelated female from the same population in the North Pacific. This is the first account of infanticide reported in killer whales and the only case committed jointly by an adult male and his mother outside of humans. Consistent with findings in other social mammals, we suggest that infanticide is a sexually selected behaviour in killer whales that could provide subsequent mating opportunities for the infanticidal male and thereby provide inclusive fitness benefits for his mother.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22714-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5861072PMC
March 2018

Alterations in amino acid status in cats with feline dysautonomia.

PLoS One 2017 23;12(3):e0174346. Epub 2017 Mar 23.

Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Roslin, Midlothian, United Kingdom.

Feline dysautonomia (FD) is a multiple system neuropathy of unknown aetiology. An apparently identical disease occurs in horses (equine grass sickness, EGS), dogs, rabbits, hares, sheep, alpacas and llamas. Horses with acute EGS have a marked reduction in plasma concentrations of the sulphur amino acids (SAA) cyst(e)ine and methionine, which may reflect exposure to a neurotoxic xenobiotic. The aim of this study was to determine whether FD cats have alterations in amino acid profiles similar to those of EGS horses. Amino acids were quantified in plasma/serum from 14 FD cats, 5 healthy in-contact cats which shared housing and diet with the FD cats, and 6 healthy control cats which were housed separately from FD cats and which received a different diet. The adequacy of amino acids in the cats' diet was assessed by determining the amino acid content of tinned and dry pelleted foods collected immediately after occurrences of FD. Compared with controls, FD cats had increased concentrations of many essential amino acids, with the exception of methionine which was significantly reduced, and reductions in most non-essential amino acids. In-contact cats also had inadequate methionine status. Artefactual loss of cysteine during analysis precluded assessment of the cyst(e)ine status. Food analysis indicated that the low methionine status was unlikely to be attributable to dietary inadequacy of methionine or cystine. Multi-mycotoxin screening identified low concentrations of several mycotoxins in dry food from all 3 premises. While this indicates fungal contamination of the food, none of these mycotoxins appears to induce the specific clinico-pathologic features which characterise FD and equivalent multiple system neuropathies in other species. Instead, we hypothesise that ingestion of another, as yet unidentified, dietary neurotoxic mycotoxin or xenobiotic, may cause both the characteristic disease pathology and the plasma SAA depletion.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0174346PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5363954PMC
August 2017

Intra- and intergroup vocal behavior in resident killer whales, Orcinus orca.

J Acoust Soc Am 2007 Dec;122(6):3710-6

Department of Behavioural Biology, University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.

Vocal communication within and between groups of individuals has been described extensively in birds and terrestrial mammals, however, little is known about how cetaceans utilize their sounds in their natural environment. Resident killer whales, Orcinus orca, live in highly stable matrilines and exhibit group-specific vocal dialects. Single call types cannot exclusively be associated with particular behaviors and calls are thought to function in group identification and intragroup communication. In the present study call usage of three closely related matrilines of the Northern resident community was compared in various intra- and intergroup contexts. In two out of the three matrilines significant changes in vocal behavior depending both on the presence and identity of accompanying whales were found. Most evidently, family-specific call subtypes, as well as aberrant and variable calls, were emitted at higher rates, whereas "low arousal" call types were used less in the presence of matrilines from different pods, subclans, or clans. Ways in which the observed changes may function both in intra- and intergroup communication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.2799907DOI Listing
December 2007

Vocal behavior of resident killer whale matrilines with newborn calves: the role of family signatures.

J Acoust Soc Am 2006 Jan;119(1):627-35

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria.

Studies of the vocal behavior of resident killer whales or orcas, Orcinus orca, in British Columbia have shown that matrilines have unique call repertoires consisting of up to 17 different call types. These call types cannot be attributed exclusively to specific behaviors, and their function in social contexts is poorly understood. This study investigated the change in call patterns of three resident matrilines in a changed social environment, before and up to one year after the birth of a calf. Acoustic data were collected with a network of hydrophones and were supplemented by visual observations. Call use changed distinctly after the birth of a calf in all three observed matrilines. All call types that were recorded in control situations were also recorded in postbirth situations; however, aberrant versions of discrete calls and excitement calls made up a higher proportion of calls after birth. Most conspicuously, family-specific call types occurred significantly more frequently in the days following a birth in two of the three matrilines and gradually returned to prebirth values within 2 weeks. Their increased use after a calf's birth may facilitate the learning process of this "acoustic family badge" and thereby help to recognize and maintain cohesion with family members.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.2130934DOI Listing
January 2006

Drug binding sites on chicken albumin: a comparison to human albumin.

J Vet Pharmacol Ther 1997 Dec;20(6):421-6

Department of Pharmacology, University of Leeds, UK.

Mammalian albumins have two main structurally selective ligand binding sites. Site I binds drugs such as azapropazone, phenylbutazone and warfarin; whereas benzodiazepines, some dansyl amino acids, such as dansylsarcosine, and short chain fatty acids like octanoic acid interact with site II. However, it is not known if non-mammalian albumins have similar binding loci. In this study, drug binding sites on chicken albumin were investigated using site selective fluorescent probes (warfarin and dansylsarcosine) and p-nitrophenyl acetate (NPA); the hydrolysis of which is selectively inhibited by site II ligands. Azapropazone and phenylbutazone decreased the binding of warfarin and dansylsarcosine to a similar extent. Diazepam and octanoic acid also inhibited binding of the two fluorescent probes in a non-selective manner. However, the fluorescence intensity of the warfarin-chicken albumin complex decreased when the pH was increased from 6.0-9.0; but by contrast, the fluorescence of bound dansylsarcosine remained unchanged. Furthermore, the hydrolysis of NPA was selectively inhibited by dansylsarcosine, diazepam and octanoic acid (ligands selective for site II on mammalian albumins), but not by site I selective ligands such as azapropazone and warfarin. Overall, the results suggest that chicken albumin, like mammalian albumins, has discrete binding sites for warfarin and dansylsarcosine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2885.1997.00099.xDOI Listing
December 1997