Winner, First Place
Birdsong not only fills the world with beautiful natural melodies but is also a vital communication method for songbirds and is critical in their mate choice. Here we get a colorful look at a nestling European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) brain. This 20-day old brain is full of rapidly growing and developing brain structures that the Starling will use to aid in the learning and production of song throughout its life. The first few months of life are a very developmentally sensitive time for the bird and a variety of stressors can interfere with brain regions in the song system during this time. My research examines how parasitic mites in bird nests early in their development might affect these brain regions and, in turn, affect song learning and production. The cerebellum, pictured here, has been linked to vocal timing of birdsong. Special thanks to ISU Confocal Core for assistance in advanced bioimaging.
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