Toxicity of the feathers of Yellow Grosbeak, Pheucticus chrysopeplus (Passeriformes: Cardinalidae), a chemically defended neotropical bird
Chemical defense is a widespread mechanism on many animals and plants. However, just a few cases are known for avian species. In this study we evaluate the toxicity of Pheucticus chrysopeplus feather extract via lethality test with brine shrimp (Artemia salina) as an in vivo model. Mortality of A. salina was evaluated after 24 hour exposure to artificial seawater, methanol, and the methanolic feather extract. Kruskal-Wallis test showed a significant difference in mortality between treatments (X2 = 65.25, P < 0.0001, n = 50). With this we describe P. chrysopeplus as the first known toxic avian species of Guatemala and Central America, raising awareness about its conservation and the identification of the toxic substance present in its feathers. We also highlight the possible mimicry mechanism taking part between P. chrysopeplus and two sympatric oriole species (Icterus pectoralis and I. pustulatus).