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Communication
Peer-Review Record

Observation of an Attempted Forced Copulation within a Captive Flock of Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Birds 2022, 3(4), 374-382; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3040025
by 1,2
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2:
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Birds 2022, 3(4), 374-382; https://doi.org/10.3390/birds3040025
Submission received: 17 October 2022 / Revised: 8 November 2022 / Accepted: 9 November 2022 / Published: 15 November 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers of Birds 2022–2023)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

“Observation of an attempted forced copulation within a captive  flock of greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus)” describes exactly what the title suggests. The paper is clear and well organized.

I recommend that the videos also be uploaded to a repository that will assign a DOI, and where the videos will be permanently stored and cannot be un-pposted or edited (Zenodo, Figshare, and Mendeley Data are all free options; Data Dryad is a paid option). As evidenced by the video cited on L 234, youtube isn’t really sufficient for keeping the scientific record, though it’s very convenient!

It was a bit difficult to see the exact moment of the attempted copulation in the video, because of other birds being in the way, but I suspect it was more clear for an in-person observer. I’m not an expert in flamingo behavior, nor do I have access to citation 10 to verify that the male’s behaviors are similar to the lead-up to copulation. However, it’s clearly an antagonistic encounter between male and female, and I trust that the author’s experience with watching flamingo behavior makes this relatively unambiguous.

L 34-43: (Brouwer and Griffith 2019) is a more up-to-date reference, which should be included here. In their large-scale analysis, Brouwer and Griffith do not find evidence of longevity and coloniality affecting the likelihood of extra-pair paternity, so please alter the wording to allow that these hypotheses may only be supported in some groups of species, not across all of birds. Brouwer L, Griffith SC. 2019. Extra‐pair paternity in birds. Mol Ecol. 28(22):4864–4882. doi:10.1111/mec.15259.

L 46: “partnership” perhaps more correct than “partner”

L 72: perhaps give some information about the number of males and females in the flock (relevant for discussion lines 248-258)

L 80: perhaps more clear to write out circa than to abbreviate with c

L 87: Can you please give a bit more information about what “flight restrained” means?

L109-177: I appreciate the screenshots and annotations. I think it would be helpful to add some annotations of the time stamp on the videos (and perhaps indicate that the videos are available at the start of this section, e.g., at the end of the first paragraph in section 3, so that readers can also follow along in the videos)

L 171: “that this was not an extra pair copulation as he did not attempt to seek out any partner once this encounter had finished”: This phrasing implies that an individual has to be paired in order to perform an extra-pair copulation. In contrast, I would define an extra-pair copulation as any copulation not between socially paired birds—for example, a non-territorial “floater” male in a songbird species may perform extra-pair copulations with a female that has a territorial social mate. My definition also is consistent with that in your citation 9:  “extra-pair encounters among birds not nesting together during the current season” (pg 177)

L192: perhaps note that these were on other flamingo species. Also, this paragraph start contrasts with L 204-207, 227-237. Citation 9 is somewhat self-contradictory also. Is the distinction about breeding stage, or about completed vs. thwarted forced copulations? Please add/change to avoid the apparent contradiction.

L 213-215, 263-265: I was surprised that the Zoo does not have records of which birds are paired together—it may be worth making an explicit note of that fact in the methods.

L 234: this video link did not work (“This video isn’t available anymore”)

L 252-258: It wasn’t clear to me whether these were conjectures by the author, or if they are already established ideas in the literature. If the latter, please add citations.

Author Response

“Observation of an attempted forced copulation within a captive flock of greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus)” describes exactly what the title suggests. The paper is clear and well organized.

Thank you for the comments. I am pleased that you feel the paper is useful. I have attempted to action all comments and suggested improvements below.

I recommend that the videos also be uploaded to a repository that will assign a DOI, and where the videos will be permanently stored and cannot be un-pposted or edited (Zenodo, Figshare, and Mendeley Data are all free options; Data Dryad is a paid option). As evidenced by the video cited on L 234, youtube isn’t really sufficient for keeping the scientific record, though it’s very convenient!

Thank you. I was a bit clueless about media sharing. I have created a Figshare account and included DOIs for these videos.  

It was a bit difficult to see the exact moment of the attempted copulation in the video, because of other birds being in the way, but I suspect it was more clear for an in-person observer. I’m not an expert in flamingo behavior, nor do I have access to citation 10 to verify that the male’s behaviors are similar to the lead-up to copulation. However, it’s clearly an antagonistic encounter between male and female, and I trust that the author’s experience with watching flamingo behavior makes this relatively unambiguous.

There was no actual copulation of the female bird. The male attempted this, which occurs at 00:47 in the second video of the greater flamingos. Flamingo aggression is intense but sporadic and often unresolved. This was a directed from the male to the female. She aggressively rebuffed his reproductive advances. He was not trying to drive her away or fight with her in the traditional sense of aggression, but coerce her into a copulation. Hopefully the difference in their interactions is clear from the videos, which are now viewable.

L 34-43: (Brouwer and Griffith 2019) is a more up-to-date reference, which should be included here. In their large-scale analysis, Brouwer and Griffith do not find evidence of longevity and coloniality affecting the likelihood of extra-pair paternity, so please alter the wording to allow that these hypotheses may only be supported in some groups of species, not across all of birds. Brouwer L, Griffith SC. 2019. Extra‐pair paternity in birds. Mol Ecol. 28(22):4864–4882. doi:10.1111/mec.15259.

Thank you. This has now been included.

L 46: “partnership” perhaps more correct than “partner”

Edited

L 72: perhaps give some information about the number of males and females in the flock (relevant for discussion lines 248-258)

Edited

L 80: perhaps more clear to write out circa than to abbreviate with c

Edited

L 87: Can you please give a bit more information about what “flight restrained” means?

This is common parlance for managing birds in captivity. The animal’s ability to fly is restricted to keep them within one place or location. I have stated this this is to prevent escape in the paper.

L109-177: I appreciate the screenshots and annotations. I think it would be helpful to add some annotations of the time stamp on the videos (and perhaps indicate that the videos are available at the start of this section, e.g., at the end of the first paragraph in section 3, so that readers can also follow along in the videos)

I have moved the links to the videos to the section above figure 2. Approximate times of screenshots have been included in the figure captions.

L 171: “that this was not an extra pair copulation as he did not attempt to seek out any partner once this encounter had finished”: This phrasing implies that an individual has to be paired in order to perform an extra-pair copulation. In contrast, I would define an extra-pair copulation as any copulation not between socially paired birds—for example, a non-territorial “floater” male in a songbird species may perform extra-pair copulations with a female that has a territorial social mate. My definition also is consistent with that in your citation 9:  “extra-pair encounters among birds not nesting together during the current season” (pg 177)

I have attempted to edit this caption accordingly.

L192: perhaps note that these were on other flamingo species. Also, this paragraph start contrasts with L 204-207, 227-237. Citation 9 is somewhat self-contradictory also. Is the distinction about breeding stage, or about completed vs. thwarted forced copulations? Please add/change to avoid the apparent contradiction.

I am confused as to the suggested edit here. I have attempted to edit this section but let me know if it is still unclear. I have included the names of the different species of flamingo included in this work.

L 213-215, 263-265: I was surprised that the Zoo does not have records of which birds are paired together—it may be worth making an explicit note of that fact in the methods.

I do not understand how this is inferred from the text? I have included in the description of the colony that records of who is nesting where (on what nest mound) would be recorded.

L 234: this video link did not work (“This video isn’t available anymore”)

Edited to be placed on Figshare.

L 252-258: It wasn’t clear to me whether these were conjectures by the author, or if they are already established ideas in the literature. If the latter, please add citations.

I have re-written for clarity. Apologies for the ambiguity.

Reviewer 2 Report

A well-written paper that requires minimal editing. I recommend publication after a slight spelling edit.

Author Response

Thank you for the positive feedback. Spelling and grammar have been reviewed and edited accordingly.

Reviewer 3 Report

Dear Author,

 

       This is an interesting Communication about forced copulation attempted in a captive flock of Greater flamingos. Can you add something about the flock structure? How many females and how many males are in this flock? Can you say something about the breeding season? Now many nests are in this flock? Please add more contextual data for the flock social, biological and ecological structure. Here are also some minor comments.

   Can you provide a approval / license to keep these flamingos in captivity?

Line 3: Greater flamingos or Greater Flamingos. Please check this for the entire manuscript!

Line 77: It was captive hatched in 2017 and it has 7 year old at the time of observation? How is this possible?

 

Best regards

Author Response

This is an interesting Communication about forced copulation attempted in a captive flock of Greater flamingos. Can you add something about the flock structure? How many females and how many males are in this flock? Can you say something about the breeding season? Now many nests are in this flock? Please add more contextual data for the flock social, biological and ecological structure. Here are also some minor comments.

Thank you for the helpful comments on the paper. I am pleased you find this useful. I have included information on flock size and demographic information, and the nesting situation. I am not sure what you mean by biological and ecological structure?

   Can you provide a approval / license to keep these flamingos in captivity?

These are captive birds that have been housed by WWT since 1961. WWT has a zoo licence and is able to manage a captive collection, as is standard practice for operational zoological collections.

Line 3: Greater flamingos or Greater Flamingos. Please check this for the entire manuscript!

Edited throughout

Line 77: It was captive hatched in 2017 and it has 7 year old at the time of observation? How is this possible?

Apologies. This was a typo and thank you for spotting. I had confused the dates of hatch of the focal bird with another in the list of flamingo recorded. This has been edited and the correct information provided.

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