Anatomical specializations for enhanced olfactory sensitivity in kiwi, Apteryx mantelli

Corfield, J.R., Eisthen, H.L., Iwaniuk, A.N., & Parsons, S. (2014) Anatomical specializations for enhanced olfactory sensitivity in kiwi, Apteryx mantelli. Brain, behavior and evolution, 84(3), pp. 214-226.

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Abstract

The ability to function in a nocturnal and ground-dwelling niche requires a unique set of sensory specializations. The New Zealand kiwi has shifted away from vision, instead relying on auditory and tactile stimuli to function in its environment and locate prey. Behavioral evidence suggests that kiwi also rely on their sense of smell, using olfactory cues in foraging and possibly also in communication and social interactions. Anatomical studies appear to support these observations: the olfactory bulbs and tubercles have been suggested to be large in the kiwi relative to other birds, although the extent of this enlargement is poorly understood. In this study, we examine the size of the olfactory bulbs in kiwi and compare them with 55 other bird species, including emus, ostriches, rheas, tinamous, and 2 extinct species of moa (Dinornithiformes). We also examine the cytoarchitecture of the olfactory bulbs and olfactory epithelium to determine if any neural specializations beyond size are present that would increase olfactory acuity. Kiwi were a clear outlier in our analysis, with olfactory bulbs that are proportionately larger than those of any other bird in this study. Emus, close relatives of the kiwi, also had a relative enlargement of the olfactory bulbs, possibly supporting a phylogenetic link to well-developed olfaction. The olfactory bulbs in kiwi are almost in direct contact with the olfactory epithelium, which is indeed well developed and complex, with olfactory receptor cells occupying a large percentage of the epithelium. The anatomy of the kiwi olfactory system supports an enhancement for olfactory sensitivities, which is undoubtedly associated with their unique nocturnal niche.

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ID Code: 79729
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1159/000365564
ISSN: 1421-9743
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 07 Jan 2015 00:57
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2015 04:07

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