Article Critique

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The main purpose of this study was to examine how a blue petrel’s olfactory system works and to see whether the system they use is observed in other bird species. These researchers wanted to determine if they could propose a possible pattern for olfactory systems. These systems assist in chemical communication of kinship recognition and mate selection. Some of the methodological concerns the researchers had were the constraints of chemical analysis in the field and the difficulty of conducting field behavioral experiments. To overcome the methodological concerns they saw, the researchers decided to use mice instead of the blue petrel species. One of the main reasons that the researchers chose mice was because they hypothesized that petrels have a similar olfactory system to mice. This system enables mice to pick up non-personal scents and to recognize their mate’s odor. Researchers also chose to use mice because the petrels do not reach the age of first breeding until they are seven to nine years old which means it would take years to collect a large enough sample size. Petrels are monogamous partners and only have one chick per year. Mice breed quickly so it is easier to collect large sample sizes. In this experiment, however, there sample sizes are on the small side. At first, I questioned why they used mice instead of petrels but after reading their argument it seems that they are first testing whether chemical signaling occurs that there are chemical signals assisting in the process. However, this means that the findings they report on are not ecologically realistic. In my eyes, ecological realism occurs when an experiment or study is a copy of an event that happens in nature or is close to what happens in nature. This artic... ... middle of paper ... ...ne where the kin labels chemicals develop, whether from their genetic makeup or environmental factors such as diet. These findings are the first of many in the field of chemical ecology. One of the study’s potential contributions to the field of chemical ecology is in its findings that broaden the evidence to support that chemical signals establish critical socio-ecological information such as identity, social status or sex in bird and other species. Another potential contribution is that this study helped to confirm the existence of an individual olfactory signature in blue petrels, which suggests that many species of birds may exhibit an olfactory kin label when selecting mates. It would be interesting to combine this study’s findings with a behavior experiment making observations in the petrel’s (or other bird species) natural habitat like the article proposes.

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