In avian ecology, utilization of molecular techniques, especially DNA polymorphism analyses, has been increasing. Current avian molecular studies include three major interrelated approaches; molecular phylogeny, molecular genetics and conservation genetics. This review describes the outline of Sibley's tapestry, examples of studies utilizing the three approaches and discusses molecular tools, ethical problems and future possibilties. RFLP of mitochondrial DNA has been the most popular method for detecting polymorphism in the last decade, the PCR-directed sequencing technique, however, is becoming common, and Microsatellite DNA and MHC are expected to be important in the near future. Diverse applications of molecular techniques will be also a major future trend in avian ecology and evolution.
A questionnaire on the breeding and distribution of the Hazel Grouse Bonasa bonasia was given to 1, 912 persons in Hokkaido in February and March 1990. A total of 1, 561 (81.6%) replies was obtained. Of these replies, nests and eggs were found in 39, birds were seen in 930, and calls were heard in 316 while there were no observations in 573. More observations were obtained from September to November (11 to 17%) and from May to June (9 to 11%) than in other months. Group sizes ranged from 1 to 30 birds and the cases of 2 birds sightings accounted for 47%. Averages±SD of group sizes were 2.7±1.9 in spring (April and May), 3.4±2.9 (June to August), 3.4±2.8 in autumn (September and October) and 3.3±2.8 in winter (November to March), which were large compared with corresponding values obtained in previous studies in Hokkaido. Nests and eggs were found mainly in May and June. Clutch sizes ranged from 2 to 11 and averaged 5.9±2.4, which was smaller than known clutch sizes in Hokkaido. For this reason small-sized clutches possibly included those of other bird species such as the Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus or the Woodcock Scolopax rusticola because 72% of answerers had not experience of bird watching. Brood sizes ranged from 1 to 10 with an average of 5.4 ±2.1. Of 623 hunters who replied, 224 (36%) hunted Hazel Grouses and the number of birds killed was 4.1±5.7 per hunter. Of birds killed, 532 were males, 340 were females and sex-unknown were 56. Hazel Grouses were observed in 1, 425 quadrats (5×4.6km) of 3, 652 quadrats in Hokkaido. The main vegetation types of these quadrats were coniferous and deciduous broad-leaved forests and larch plantation. Most quadrats in which Hazel Grouses were observed were at altitudes from 200 to 800m. Information about distribution of the species obtained from questionnaries is fairly reliable. However, group, clutch and brood sizes differ from known corresponding values for the species in Hokkaido respectively.
During 8 years, 1986-93, 10 complete and one partial (primaries) albino chicks occurred from the nests of presumably the same pair of Corvus corone. The parents were normal black and buff-mutant birds (confirmed by the junior author and his friend). They nested in a red-pine wood, renesting in different tree every year. The brood size was four chicks (at least confirmed in one year), including one (two in two years) albino bird. Thus, the total chicks produced are estimated as 32, consisting of 22 normal and 10 albino (incl. of a partial albino) chicks. It is suggested that the both parents had a recessive albino gene, as totally recessive in one and semi-recessive in the other (buff-mutant) parent. The occurrence rate of an albino gene is biologically very low and so, the pairing of such mutant individuals is of extremely rare case. As far as known complete albino didn't occur in C. macrorhynchos, all reported (at least three) cases having been buff-mutants, while total (or complete) albinos have occurred in C. corone and no buff-mutant has ever been reported (so, the buff-mutant parent bird here reported is considered to be rather exceptional). The buff-mutant may represent weak defficiency of melanine pigments or its activating enzyme, the tyrosine. The other probability of the buff-mutant of being the F1 between a normal black and an albino parent is highly unprobable, because the albino itself is of very rare occurrence. Moreover, albino chicks here reported had dropped down from the nest before fully grown, probably not enough fed by the parents. So, survival rate of albinos to its maturity and their possibility of mating with normal bird should be very low. However, albino fledgling and grown individuals have been reported from three localities some kilometers north and south of the nest sites. Therefore, albino genes may be recessively retained in this locally segregated (by mountain ranges) coastal population of Curvus corone, with some consanguineous-marriage effect.
This paper, based on our field observations from April to July 1992 in western Sichuan, China, presents the findings of our study of the White Eared-Pheasant (Crossoptilon crossoptilon), a world's vulnerable species. The pheasants in this part of China mainly inhabit subalpine coniferous forests at an altitude of 3300m to 4050m and their nests are usually under either dragon spruce (Picea sp.) or protruding rocks. Thy are gregarious during most of the year, but remain monogamous during the breeding period. During an incubation period of 28 to 29 days, the female alone incubated the clutch, usually consisting of 6 to 9 yellow-brown eggs with or without spots. On the day after hatching, the young birds desert their nest to begin a gregarious life together with their parents. In the present study, however, we observed that nest low: one of four nests hatched successfully. This result was due to predation by natural enemies such as Crows (Corvus macrohynchus), Buzzards (Buteo buteo) and other small carnivores.
A single individual of Ross's Gull Rhodostethia rosea was found emaciated in Niitsu City, located inland in Niigata Prefecture, Japan on 10 December 1995. The bird was brought to the Bird Rescue Center of Niigata Prefecture, but died in the following morning. This is the southern most record for this species in Japan.