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Evidence of infanticide in the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) in southeastern Brazil

Evidence of infanticide in the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) in southeastern Brazil Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 25(3): 152–154. SHORT-COMMUNIC ARA TICLE TION September 2017 Evidence of infanticide in the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) in southeastern Brazil 1,2 Robson Silva-e-Silva Rua Amaral Gurgel 63/51, 11035-120, Santos, SP, Brazil. Corresponding author: rsilvaesilva@uol.com.br Received on 29 March 2017. Accepted on 05 October 2017. ABSTRACT: An event of infanticide by Scarlet Ibises (Eudocimus ruber) was observed on 14 January 2014 in a breeding colony located in the mangrove swamps of Cubatão, southeastern Brazil. During a fight over a nest involving several a dults who were stealing nesting material, two young (about four and seven days old) were thrown out from the nest and immediately attacked by a pair of adult birds, especially the female. This attack ceased only after the young fell in the water and drowned. The lack of intensive monitoring may be a reason infanticide is commonly underestimated, and mostly unrecorded, by most studies on bird breeding biology. More detailed studies, with adequate monitoring, are required to understand the role played by infanticide in the biology and population dynamics of colonial waterbirds. KEY-WORDS: breeding colony, Cubatão, mangroves, nestlings, waterbirds. Scarlet Ibises (Eudocimus ruber) occur along the been recorded for this species. Here, I report the first mangroves and wetlands of Atlantic coast of most documented case of infanticide among Scarlet Ibises. countries in northern South America, with an inland Observations were made in the mangroves of Santos- population in the Llanos of Venezuela. In Brazil the Cubatão, central coast of São Paulo state, southeastern species once had a mostly continuous coastal range, but Brazil. This area is a mosaic of habitats including large is now split and reduced in three disjunct populations: a mudflats, mangrove forest, freshwater wetlands and northern population, larger, ranging from Amapá, Pará, Atlantic Forest-mangrove ecotones (Olmos & Silva-e- Maranhão, Piauí and Ceará states; a quite small, possibly Silva 2003). The mangroves are mostly surrounded by introduced, eastern population in Bahia state (Lima et port and industrial areas, shanty towns and urban areas al. 2007), and a southern reintroduced population now (Olmos & Silva-e-Silva 2001a). using the coasts of São Paulo, Paraná and Santa Catarina During the 2013–2014 nesting season, Scarlet Ibises states (Silva-e-Silva 2007, Fink & Cremer 2015). established a breeding colony in an area dominated by Mock (1984) defines infanticide as a “behavior Red Mangrove trees (Rhizophora mangle), ranging from that makes a direct and significant contribution to the 1.5 to 8 m in height, situated between the USIMINAS immediate death of an embryo or newly hatched (or born) port terminal and the low hill of Morro do Casqueirinho o o member of the performer's own species”. He further states (23 52'18.60''S; 46 22'49.29''W), Cubatão municipality. that this behavior usually occurs in the contexts of brood This site is just 1.5 km, in a straight line, from the place reduction, desertion, coloniality and communal nestling. the birds last nested in this area, in 1996–1997 nesting Among birds, infanticide is far from rare and is the season (Olmos & Silva-e-Silva 2001b). The colony is main cause of nestling mortality in some species (Mock located right by a pier used by the cargo ships servicing 1984). It is easy to misinterpret the remains of a nestling a large steel plant, with much noise caused by vehicles, or egg found on the ground under the nest and assume machinery and people. It is also one of the pollution that it was the result of predation, accident or parental hotspots in an area highly polluted by heavy metals and eviction of a dead chick (Moreno 2012). organic contaminants (Luiz-Silva et al. 2008). Although there are several studies on the breeding Scarlet Ibises were the most numerous species in this biology of Scarlet Ibises in the wild (Ramo & Busto colony, representing over 80% of all individuals, but other 1985, Martínez & Rodrigues 1999, Olmos & Silva-e- species also nested among them. These, in decreasing or der Silva 2001b, Olmos 2003) and captivity (Antas 1979, of numbers, were Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Spil et al. 1985), no instance of infanticide had ever Yellow-crowned Night-heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 25(3): 2017 Infanticide in the Scarlet Ibis Silva-e-Silva Black-crowned Night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Infanticide may also happen after a nesting bird Snowy Egret (Egretta thula). Access to the colony was loses its mate. In Japan a divorced male Eastern Cattle possible only during the high tide using a 7 m aluminum Egret (Bubulcus coromandus) discarded the only egg in boat with a 115 Hp engine. his nest and displaying to attract a new female, while a On 19 January 2014, at 14:27 h, while watching widowed male Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) killed three and photographing the birds at the colony, I noticed an of his four chicks and managed to attract a new partner, unusual activity in an isolated mangrove tree with some who killed the remaining chick. Both moved to another active nests. About 10 adult Scarlet Ibises were engaged in nest and raised three young (Fujioka 1986). a generalized fight. The adults jabbed at each other while These instances aside, the commonest kind of trying to take position on a nest, about 3 m high. At the infanticide among colonial waterbirds seems to be same time, they took the material out from the nest and non-parental infanticide, when nestlings are killed by attacked the two nestlings (aged about 4 and 7 days-old) birds other than their parents (Mock 1985). This seems occupying it. The two young were pulled out of the nest common in species such as Great Egrets (Ardea alba) and one at a time. They managed to hold on the branches Black-crowned Night-herons (Parkes 2005). but were repeatedly attacked by two adult ibises (a female In the present case it is impossible to be certain about and a male), especially the female. She repeatedly hit the identity of the aggressors, but since several birds were the young bird with beak (Fig. 1) on his head, feet and involved in the nest take-over and one pair was fighting wings, while the male joined in a half-hearted way. The them and trying to rearrange the nest while the others eldest nestling was finally dislodged, fell in the water and were stealing the nest material it was most likely a case of managed to hold on the lower branches of aerial roots non-parental infanticide. It is tempting to speculate the for a while, and drowned. The younger one offered less event was linked to most nests on that particular nesting resistance and was quickly thrown into the water and tree being lost a few days before during a storm and the sank. This whole event lasted about 5 min. pair killing the nestlings doing so to take possession of a A few days before this case of infanticide, a large better nest site. number of nests in this colony had been blown away by Olmos & Silva-e-Silva (2001b) found dead young a storm, a common occurrence at this time of the year and eggs under Scarlet Ibis nests and considered this the (Olmos & Silva-e-Silva 2001b). The fight focused exactly on one of the few nests still remaining in that particular result of falls caused by winds or nest collapse. Nevertheless, the event described here suggests some cases might be tree because it was particularly stout. Infanticide among waterbirds has been shown both the result of infanticide. Compounding the problem of difficult to witness and to occur in a broa d range of assessing the causes of breeding failure, predators such situations. Brood reduction due to food limitation has as Crab-eating Raccoons (Procyon cancrivorus), Broad- been reported for Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), in Poland snouted Caimans (Caiman latirostris), Black Vultures (Klosowski et al. 2002), White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) (Coragyps atratus), and Southern Caracaras (Caracara (Tortosa & Redondo 1992, Zieliński 2002) and White plancus), can take dislodged youngsters before they can Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia), in Spain (Aguilera 1989). climb back to the nest tree (Olmos & Silva-e-Silva 2001b, In all cases, parents killed their own progeny, usually the Olmos 2003). youngest chick. Since infanticide events are of a short duration its occurrence and importance can be easily underestimated. Assessing the real cause of nest failure and mortality, including the importance of infanticide, requires longer and more detailed observation effort when monitoring nests. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author thanks Daniel Losada Escobar, Náutica da Ilha, for support in logistics with the boat and motor. Suzana Negrini Pires de Campos, Andrea Cunha Monacci and Mario Arias for the opportunity to guide them on the mangrove region. Fabio Olmos for the suggestions and Figure 1. Nestling being attacked by female and male adults, just below the nest where it was pulled out. Photo author: R. review of English version. Silva-e-Silva. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 25(3): 2017 Infanticide in the Scarlet Ibis Silva-e-Silva Moreno J. 2012. Parental infanticide in birds through early eviction REFERENCES from the nest: rare or under-reported? Journal of Avian Biology 43: 43–49. Aguilera E. 1990. Parental infanticide by White Spoonbills Platalea Olmos F. 2003. Nest location, clutch size and nest success in the leucorodia. Ibis 132: 124–125. Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber. Ibis 145: E12–E18. Antas P.T.Z. 1979. Breeding the Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber at the Olmos F. & Silva-e-Silva R. 2001a. The avifauna of a south eastern Rio Zoo. International Zoo Yearbook 19: 135–139. Brazilian mangrove swamp. International Journal of Ornithology Fink D. & Cremer M.J. 2015. The return of the Scarlet I bis: first 4: 137–207. breeding event in southern Brazil after local extinction. Revista Olmos F. & Silva-e-Silva R. 2001b. Breeding biology and nest site Brasileira de Ornitologia 23: 385–391. characteristics of the Scarlet Ibis in southeastern Brazil. Waterbirds Fujioka M. 1986. Infanticide by a male parent and by a new female 24: 58–67. mate in colonial egrets. Auk 103: 619–621. Olmos F. & Silva-e-Silva R. 2003. Guará: ambiente, flora e fauna dos Klosowski G., Klosowski T. & Zielinski P. 2002. A case of parental manguezais de Santos-Cubatão, Brasil. São Paulo: Empresa das Artes. infanticide in the Black Stork Ciconia nigra. Avian Science 2: 59– Parkes M.L. 2005. Inter-nest infanticide in ardeids. Waterbirds 28: 256–257. Lima P.C., Lima T.N.C. & Lima R.C.F.R. 2007. Ocorrência da Ramo C. & Busto B. 1985. Comportamiento reproductivo del reprodução do Guará Eudocimus ruber (Linnaeus, 1758) na Bahia, Corocoro (Eudocimus ruber) en los Llanos de Venezuela. Memorias em colônia mista de Garça-vaqueira Bubulcus ibis (Linnaeus, 1758) de la Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle 45: 77–113. e Garça-azul Egretta caerulea (Linnaeus, 1758), no Recôncavo da Silva-e-Silva R. 2007. Guarás vermelhos no Brasil: as cores vibrantes da Bahia. Atualidades Ornitológicas 136: 12–13. preservação. Vinhedo: Avis Brasilis. Luiz-Silva W., Machado W. & Matos R.H.R. 2008. Multi-elemental Spil R.E., van Walstijn M.W. & Albrecht H. 1985. Observations on contamination and historic record in sediments from the Santos- the behaviour of the Scarlet Ibis, Eudocimus ruber, in Artis Zoo, Cubatão estuarine system, Brazil. Journal of the Brazilian Chemistry Society 19: 1490–1500. Amsterdam. Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde 55: 219–232. Martínez C. & Rodrigues A.A.F. 1999. Breeding biology of the Scarlet Tortosa F.S. & Redondo T. 1992. Motives for parental infanticide in Ibis on Cajual Island, northern Brazil. Journal of Field Ornithology White Storks Ciconia ciconia. Ornis Scandinavica 23: 185-–89. 70: 558–566. Zieliński P. 2002. Brood reduction and parental infanticide – are Mock D.W. 1984. Infanticide, siblicide, and avian nestling mortality, the White Stork Ciconia ciconia and the Black Stork C. nigra p. 2–30. In: Hausfater G. & Hrdy S.B. (eds.). Infanticide: exceptional? Acta Ornithologica 37: 113–119. comparative and evolutionary perspectives. Hawthorne: Aldine Publishing. Associate editor: Eduardo S. Santos. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 25(3): 2017 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ornithology Research Springer Journals

Evidence of infanticide in the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) in southeastern Brazil

Ornithology Research , Volume 25 (3) – Sep 1, 2017

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © Sociedade Brasileira de Ornitologia 2017
eISSN
2178-7875
DOI
10.1007/bf03544393
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Abstract

Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 25(3): 152–154. SHORT-COMMUNIC ARA TICLE TION September 2017 Evidence of infanticide in the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) in southeastern Brazil 1,2 Robson Silva-e-Silva Rua Amaral Gurgel 63/51, 11035-120, Santos, SP, Brazil. Corresponding author: rsilvaesilva@uol.com.br Received on 29 March 2017. Accepted on 05 October 2017. ABSTRACT: An event of infanticide by Scarlet Ibises (Eudocimus ruber) was observed on 14 January 2014 in a breeding colony located in the mangrove swamps of Cubatão, southeastern Brazil. During a fight over a nest involving several a dults who were stealing nesting material, two young (about four and seven days old) were thrown out from the nest and immediately attacked by a pair of adult birds, especially the female. This attack ceased only after the young fell in the water and drowned. The lack of intensive monitoring may be a reason infanticide is commonly underestimated, and mostly unrecorded, by most studies on bird breeding biology. More detailed studies, with adequate monitoring, are required to understand the role played by infanticide in the biology and population dynamics of colonial waterbirds. KEY-WORDS: breeding colony, Cubatão, mangroves, nestlings, waterbirds. Scarlet Ibises (Eudocimus ruber) occur along the been recorded for this species. Here, I report the first mangroves and wetlands of Atlantic coast of most documented case of infanticide among Scarlet Ibises. countries in northern South America, with an inland Observations were made in the mangroves of Santos- population in the Llanos of Venezuela. In Brazil the Cubatão, central coast of São Paulo state, southeastern species once had a mostly continuous coastal range, but Brazil. This area is a mosaic of habitats including large is now split and reduced in three disjunct populations: a mudflats, mangrove forest, freshwater wetlands and northern population, larger, ranging from Amapá, Pará, Atlantic Forest-mangrove ecotones (Olmos & Silva-e- Maranhão, Piauí and Ceará states; a quite small, possibly Silva 2003). The mangroves are mostly surrounded by introduced, eastern population in Bahia state (Lima et port and industrial areas, shanty towns and urban areas al. 2007), and a southern reintroduced population now (Olmos & Silva-e-Silva 2001a). using the coasts of São Paulo, Paraná and Santa Catarina During the 2013–2014 nesting season, Scarlet Ibises states (Silva-e-Silva 2007, Fink & Cremer 2015). established a breeding colony in an area dominated by Mock (1984) defines infanticide as a “behavior Red Mangrove trees (Rhizophora mangle), ranging from that makes a direct and significant contribution to the 1.5 to 8 m in height, situated between the USIMINAS immediate death of an embryo or newly hatched (or born) port terminal and the low hill of Morro do Casqueirinho o o member of the performer's own species”. He further states (23 52'18.60''S; 46 22'49.29''W), Cubatão municipality. that this behavior usually occurs in the contexts of brood This site is just 1.5 km, in a straight line, from the place reduction, desertion, coloniality and communal nestling. the birds last nested in this area, in 1996–1997 nesting Among birds, infanticide is far from rare and is the season (Olmos & Silva-e-Silva 2001b). The colony is main cause of nestling mortality in some species (Mock located right by a pier used by the cargo ships servicing 1984). It is easy to misinterpret the remains of a nestling a large steel plant, with much noise caused by vehicles, or egg found on the ground under the nest and assume machinery and people. It is also one of the pollution that it was the result of predation, accident or parental hotspots in an area highly polluted by heavy metals and eviction of a dead chick (Moreno 2012). organic contaminants (Luiz-Silva et al. 2008). Although there are several studies on the breeding Scarlet Ibises were the most numerous species in this biology of Scarlet Ibises in the wild (Ramo & Busto colony, representing over 80% of all individuals, but other 1985, Martínez & Rodrigues 1999, Olmos & Silva-e- species also nested among them. These, in decreasing or der Silva 2001b, Olmos 2003) and captivity (Antas 1979, of numbers, were Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Spil et al. 1985), no instance of infanticide had ever Yellow-crowned Night-heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 25(3): 2017 Infanticide in the Scarlet Ibis Silva-e-Silva Black-crowned Night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Infanticide may also happen after a nesting bird Snowy Egret (Egretta thula). Access to the colony was loses its mate. In Japan a divorced male Eastern Cattle possible only during the high tide using a 7 m aluminum Egret (Bubulcus coromandus) discarded the only egg in boat with a 115 Hp engine. his nest and displaying to attract a new female, while a On 19 January 2014, at 14:27 h, while watching widowed male Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) killed three and photographing the birds at the colony, I noticed an of his four chicks and managed to attract a new partner, unusual activity in an isolated mangrove tree with some who killed the remaining chick. Both moved to another active nests. About 10 adult Scarlet Ibises were engaged in nest and raised three young (Fujioka 1986). a generalized fight. The adults jabbed at each other while These instances aside, the commonest kind of trying to take position on a nest, about 3 m high. At the infanticide among colonial waterbirds seems to be same time, they took the material out from the nest and non-parental infanticide, when nestlings are killed by attacked the two nestlings (aged about 4 and 7 days-old) birds other than their parents (Mock 1985). This seems occupying it. The two young were pulled out of the nest common in species such as Great Egrets (Ardea alba) and one at a time. They managed to hold on the branches Black-crowned Night-herons (Parkes 2005). but were repeatedly attacked by two adult ibises (a female In the present case it is impossible to be certain about and a male), especially the female. She repeatedly hit the identity of the aggressors, but since several birds were the young bird with beak (Fig. 1) on his head, feet and involved in the nest take-over and one pair was fighting wings, while the male joined in a half-hearted way. The them and trying to rearrange the nest while the others eldest nestling was finally dislodged, fell in the water and were stealing the nest material it was most likely a case of managed to hold on the lower branches of aerial roots non-parental infanticide. It is tempting to speculate the for a while, and drowned. The younger one offered less event was linked to most nests on that particular nesting resistance and was quickly thrown into the water and tree being lost a few days before during a storm and the sank. This whole event lasted about 5 min. pair killing the nestlings doing so to take possession of a A few days before this case of infanticide, a large better nest site. number of nests in this colony had been blown away by Olmos & Silva-e-Silva (2001b) found dead young a storm, a common occurrence at this time of the year and eggs under Scarlet Ibis nests and considered this the (Olmos & Silva-e-Silva 2001b). The fight focused exactly on one of the few nests still remaining in that particular result of falls caused by winds or nest collapse. Nevertheless, the event described here suggests some cases might be tree because it was particularly stout. Infanticide among waterbirds has been shown both the result of infanticide. Compounding the problem of difficult to witness and to occur in a broa d range of assessing the causes of breeding failure, predators such situations. Brood reduction due to food limitation has as Crab-eating Raccoons (Procyon cancrivorus), Broad- been reported for Black Storks (Ciconia nigra), in Poland snouted Caimans (Caiman latirostris), Black Vultures (Klosowski et al. 2002), White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) (Coragyps atratus), and Southern Caracaras (Caracara (Tortosa & Redondo 1992, Zieliński 2002) and White plancus), can take dislodged youngsters before they can Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia), in Spain (Aguilera 1989). climb back to the nest tree (Olmos & Silva-e-Silva 2001b, In all cases, parents killed their own progeny, usually the Olmos 2003). youngest chick. Since infanticide events are of a short duration its occurrence and importance can be easily underestimated. Assessing the real cause of nest failure and mortality, including the importance of infanticide, requires longer and more detailed observation effort when monitoring nests. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author thanks Daniel Losada Escobar, Náutica da Ilha, for support in logistics with the boat and motor. Suzana Negrini Pires de Campos, Andrea Cunha Monacci and Mario Arias for the opportunity to guide them on the mangrove region. Fabio Olmos for the suggestions and Figure 1. Nestling being attacked by female and male adults, just below the nest where it was pulled out. Photo author: R. review of English version. Silva-e-Silva. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 25(3): 2017 Infanticide in the Scarlet Ibis Silva-e-Silva Moreno J. 2012. Parental infanticide in birds through early eviction REFERENCES from the nest: rare or under-reported? Journal of Avian Biology 43: 43–49. Aguilera E. 1990. Parental infanticide by White Spoonbills Platalea Olmos F. 2003. Nest location, clutch size and nest success in the leucorodia. Ibis 132: 124–125. Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber. Ibis 145: E12–E18. Antas P.T.Z. 1979. Breeding the Scarlet Ibis Eudocimus ruber at the Olmos F. & Silva-e-Silva R. 2001a. The avifauna of a south eastern Rio Zoo. International Zoo Yearbook 19: 135–139. Brazilian mangrove swamp. International Journal of Ornithology Fink D. & Cremer M.J. 2015. The return of the Scarlet I bis: first 4: 137–207. breeding event in southern Brazil after local extinction. Revista Olmos F. & Silva-e-Silva R. 2001b. Breeding biology and nest site Brasileira de Ornitologia 23: 385–391. characteristics of the Scarlet Ibis in southeastern Brazil. Waterbirds Fujioka M. 1986. Infanticide by a male parent and by a new female 24: 58–67. mate in colonial egrets. Auk 103: 619–621. Olmos F. & Silva-e-Silva R. 2003. Guará: ambiente, flora e fauna dos Klosowski G., Klosowski T. & Zielinski P. 2002. A case of parental manguezais de Santos-Cubatão, Brasil. São Paulo: Empresa das Artes. infanticide in the Black Stork Ciconia nigra. Avian Science 2: 59– Parkes M.L. 2005. Inter-nest infanticide in ardeids. Waterbirds 28: 256–257. Lima P.C., Lima T.N.C. & Lima R.C.F.R. 2007. Ocorrência da Ramo C. & Busto B. 1985. Comportamiento reproductivo del reprodução do Guará Eudocimus ruber (Linnaeus, 1758) na Bahia, Corocoro (Eudocimus ruber) en los Llanos de Venezuela. Memorias em colônia mista de Garça-vaqueira Bubulcus ibis (Linnaeus, 1758) de la Sociedad de Ciencias Naturales La Salle 45: 77–113. e Garça-azul Egretta caerulea (Linnaeus, 1758), no Recôncavo da Silva-e-Silva R. 2007. Guarás vermelhos no Brasil: as cores vibrantes da Bahia. Atualidades Ornitológicas 136: 12–13. preservação. Vinhedo: Avis Brasilis. Luiz-Silva W., Machado W. & Matos R.H.R. 2008. Multi-elemental Spil R.E., van Walstijn M.W. & Albrecht H. 1985. Observations on contamination and historic record in sediments from the Santos- the behaviour of the Scarlet Ibis, Eudocimus ruber, in Artis Zoo, Cubatão estuarine system, Brazil. Journal of the Brazilian Chemistry Society 19: 1490–1500. Amsterdam. Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde 55: 219–232. Martínez C. & Rodrigues A.A.F. 1999. Breeding biology of the Scarlet Tortosa F.S. & Redondo T. 1992. Motives for parental infanticide in Ibis on Cajual Island, northern Brazil. Journal of Field Ornithology White Storks Ciconia ciconia. Ornis Scandinavica 23: 185-–89. 70: 558–566. Zieliński P. 2002. Brood reduction and parental infanticide – are Mock D.W. 1984. Infanticide, siblicide, and avian nestling mortality, the White Stork Ciconia ciconia and the Black Stork C. nigra p. 2–30. In: Hausfater G. & Hrdy S.B. (eds.). Infanticide: exceptional? Acta Ornithologica 37: 113–119. comparative and evolutionary perspectives. Hawthorne: Aldine Publishing. Associate editor: Eduardo S. Santos. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 25(3): 2017

Journal

Ornithology ResearchSpringer Journals

Published: Sep 1, 2017

Keywords: breeding colony; Cubatão; mangroves; nestlings; waterbirds

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