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Galapagos study finds that new species can develop in as little as 2 generations

Thu, 23 Nov 17 00:09:10 -0800

A study of Darwin's finches, which live on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, has revealed direct genetic evidence that new species can arise in just two generations.

Do birdsong and human speech share biological roots?

Wed, 22 Nov 17 00:01:00 -0800

Do songbirds and humans have common biological hardwiring that shapes how they produce and perceive sounds? Scientists who study birdsong have been intrigued for some time by the possibility that human speech and music may be rooted in biological processes shared across a variety of animals. Now, research by McGill University biologists provides new evidence to support this idea.

EU trade ban brings down global trade in wild birds by 90 percent

Wed, 22 Nov 17 00:05:30 -0800

Trade of wild birds has dropped 90 percent globally since EU banned bird imports in 2005. A new study in Science Advances demonstrates how it decreased the number of birds traded annually from 1.3 million to 130,000. International trade of wild birds is a root cause of exotic birds spreading worldwide. The study was led by Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen and CIBIO-InBIO Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto.

Eight-year research stretch yields treatise on tapeworms along with hundreds of new species

Tue, 21 Nov 17 00:13:30 -0800

A special publication titled

Finding their inner bird: Using modern genomics to turn alligator scales into birdlike feathers

Tue, 21 Nov 17 00:04:00 -0800

In a new study published in the advanced online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution, Chuong has led an international team to identify a plethora of new genes involved in scale and feather development. 'We now have a potential molecular explanation for these hypothesized missing links,' said Chuong. They have also demonstrated the ability to turn scales into feathers, by turning on and off key molecular circuits at critical stages of scale growth and development.

Climate change models of bird impacts pass the test

Tue, 21 Nov 17 00:09:40 -0800

A major study looking at changes in where UK birds have been found over the past 40 years has validated the latest climate change models being used to forecast impacts on birds and other animals.

Albatross populations in decline from fishing and environmental change

Mon, 20 Nov 17 00:00:20 -0800

The populations of wandering, black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses have halved over the last 35 years on sub-antarctic Bird Island according to a new study published today (Nov. 20) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study pinpoints arctic shorebird decline

Mon, 20 Nov 17 00:03:30 -0800

A new study co-authored by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) addresses concerns over the many Arctic shorebird populations in precipitous decline. Evident from the study is that monitoring and protection of habitat where the birds breed, winter, and stopover is critical to their survival and to that of a global migration spectacle.

Study reveals how the songbird changes its tune

Thu, 16 Nov 17 00:08:20 -0800

Researchers at UC San Francisco have shown how the Bengalese finch, a domesticated songbird, can learn to tweak its song in specific ways depending on context, which could shed light on how the human brain learns to apply different rules depending on the situation, and have implications for understanding human language and movement disorders.

Passenger pigeon case study: How even large, stable populations may be at risk for extinction

Thu, 16 Nov 17 00:14:20 -0800

A new study on passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) genomics suggests that even species with large and stable populations can be at risk of extinction if there's a sudden environmental change.

Scientists team up on study to save endangered African Penguins

Wed, 15 Nov 17 00:16:10 -0800

A first-of-its-kind study on prognostic health indicators in the endangered African Penguin provides invaluable information to preserve and rehabilitate this seabird. Competition with fisheries, oil spills, climate change, diseases and predators are all contributing factors in their dramatic population decline, which has been as high as 80 percent in some South African colonies. Until now, limited data existed on the factors contributing to their successful rehabilitation.

FIREBIRD II and NASA mission locate whistling space electrons' origins

Wed, 15 Nov 17 00:03:40 -0800

New research using data from NASA's Van Allen Probes mission and FIREBIRD II CubeSat has shown that plasma waves in space are likely responsible for accelerating high-energy particles into Earth's atmosphere.

Parasitic plants rely on unusual method to spread their seeds

Tue, 14 Nov 17 00:13:20 -0800

Three species of non-photosynthetic plants rely mainly on camel crickets to disperse their seeds, according to new research from Project Associate Professor Suetsugu Kenji (Kobe University Graduate School of Science). These findings were published on Nov. 9 in the online edition of New Phytologist.

More stress and lower survival rates for birds in young, managed forests

Tue, 14 Nov 17 00:00:20 -0800

Birds experience less stress during the winter months when they shelter in old forests rather than in younger, managed plantations suggests new research. The study in Springer's journal The Science of Nature was led by Indrikis Krams of the University of Latvia and the University of Tartu in Estonia.

The pros and cons of large ears

Mon, 13 Nov 17 00:05:20 -0800

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have compared how much energy bats use when flying, depending on whether they have large or small ears.

Seals, birds and humans compete for fish in the Baltic Sea

Mon, 13 Nov 17 00:08:20 -0800

In Sweden and in other parts of Europe there are concerns that seals and birds compete with humans for fish resources. For the Baltic Sea, an international study now shows that this competition is a reality.

A giant, prehistoric otter's surprisingly powerful bite

Thu, 09 Nov 17 00:09:10 -0800

A massive, wolf-sized otter that lived about 6 million years ago may have been a dominant predator in its time, according to a new analysis of the animal's jaws. When scientists used computers to simulate how biting would strain S. melilutra's jaws, they concluded that the animal had much firmer jaw bones than expected, giving it a surprisingly strong bite.

Crested pigeons use feathers to sound the alarm

Thu, 09 Nov 17 00:01:20 -0800

Many animals will sound an alarm to alert other members of their group of impending danger. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on Nov. 9 have shown that crested pigeons do this in a surprisingly non-vocal way. One of their main flight feathers produces a critical high-pitched sound as the birds fly away. As they flap faster to escape a predator, that alarm signal automatically increases in tempo.

A warbler's flashy yellow throat? There are genes for that

Wed, 08 Nov 17 00:09:10 -0800

Birds get their bright red, orange and yellow plumage from carotenoid pigments -- responsible for many of the same bright colours in plants. But how songbirds turn carotenoids into the spectacular variety of feathered patches found in nature has remained a mystery. Now University of British Columbia (UBC) research might have pinpointed some of the genetic machinery responsible for the plumage coloration in Audubon's and myrtle warblers, related but distinctly feathered North American songbirds.

The key to a nut

Wed, 08 Nov 17 00:02:50 -0800

Cognitive biologists from the University of Vienna and the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna tested Goffin cockatoos in a tool use task, requiring the birds to move objects in relation to a surface. The parrots were not only able to select the correct key but also required fewer placement attempts to align simple shapes than primates in a similar study.

Climate-influenced changes in flowering, fruiting also affect bird abundance, activities

Wed, 08 Nov 17 00:06:50 -0800

A new study has documented shifts in Hawaiian bird abundance, breeding and molting based on climate-related changes to native vegetation. Researchers with the US Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station recently reviewed extensive climate, vegetation and bird data collected between 1976 and 1982 at a 40-acre monitoring site about 5 miles outside Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on Hawai'i Island. The study is featured in this month's issue of Ecology.

Hearing the dawn chorus: Okinawa's new acoustic monitoring network

Mon, 06 Nov 17 00:02:50 -0800

Using remote acoustic monitoring to track bird activity on Okinawa for the first time, scientists examined the distribution of birds on Okinawa.

Science confirms you should stop and smell the roses

Fri, 03 Nov 17 00:15:40 -0700

A UBC researcher says there's truth to the idea that spending time outdoors is a direct line to happiness. In fact, Holli-Anne Passmore says if people simply take time to notice the nature around them, it will increase their general happiness and well-being.

Left or right? Like humans, bees have a preference

Thu, 02 Nov 17 00:10:40 -0700

A discovery that bees have individual flying direction preferences could lead to strategies for steering drone aircraft fleets. Researchers at The University of Queensland's Queensland Brain Institute have found that honeybees have individually distinct biases in

Penguins' calls are influenced by their habitat

Wed, 01 Nov 17 00:11:00 -0700

Birds use vocalizations to attract mates and defend territories. But while we know a lot about how variations in vocalizations play out in songbirds, it's far less clear how this variation affects birds such as penguins in which calls are inherited. A new study examines the calls of Little Penguins and finds that disparities in habitat, rather than geographic isolation, are the key driver of variation in the sounds these birds use to communicate.

How songbirds learn a new song

Wed, 01 Nov 17 00:12:20 -0700

As scientists from ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich have now shown, songbirds are minimalists when it comes to learning a new song. The birds' learning strategy resembles the methods used by computer scientists for document comparison.

Are elevated levels of mercury in the American dipper due to run-of-river dams?

Wed, 01 Nov 17 00:00:30 -0700

A study published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry used American dippers to determine if run-of-river (RoR) dams altered food webs and mercury levels at 13 stream sites in British Columbia.

Research shows how environment plays key role in changing movement behavior of animals

Mon, 30 Oct 17 00:09:50 -0700

University of Leicester mathematicians develop theory which helps to unravel long-standing mysteries of animal movement.

Cover crops provide bed and breakfast layover for migrating birds

Mon, 30 Oct 17 00:14:00 -0700

After harvesting a corn or soybean crop, farmers may plant a cover crop for a variety of reasons -- to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff, increase organic matter in the soil, and improve water quality. Now there's another reason. University of Illinois research shows that migratory birds prefer to rest and refuel in fields with cover crops.

Native trees, shrubs provide more food for birds

Mon, 30 Oct 17 00:08:30 -0700

Plant native trees and shrubs in your yard, and you can really help songbirds. In a study of the Carolina chickadee in the metropolitan DC area, researchers from the University of Delaware and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center found that native trees and shrubs support much more 'bird food' -- caterpillars -- than non-natives do.

'Bandit-masked' feathered dinosaur hid from predators using multiple types of camouflage

Thu, 26 Oct 17 00:04:30 -0700

Researchers from the University of Bristol have revealed how a small feathered dinosaur used its color patterning, including a bandit mask-like stripe across its eyes, to avoid being detected by its predators and prey.

Translocated hawks thrive in Hispaniola

Wed, 25 Oct 17 00:09:00 -0700

Species translocation -- capturing animals in one place and releasing them in another -- is a widely used conservation method for establishing or reestablishing populations of threatened species. However, translocation projects often fail when the transplanted animals fail to thrive in their new home. A new study demonstrates how close monitoring of the animals being released into a new area is helping wildlife managers gauge the success of their effort to save the Ridgway's hawk of Hispaniola.

Among 'green' energy, hydropower is the most dangerous

Wed, 25 Oct 17 00:12:40 -0700

Many governments are promoting a move away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources. However, in a study published today, scientists highlight some of the ecological dangers this wave of 'green' energy poses.

Birds without own brood help other birds with parenting, but not selflessly

Mon, 23 Oct 17 00:02:10 -0700

Birds will sometimes care for the offspring of other birds of their own species if they anticipate future benefits. Being tolerated in another bird's territory and the chance to inherit that territory later are considered rewards for which some birds are willing to postpone their own chance of reproduction. On Oct. 23, 2017, veni researcher Sjouke Kingma from the University of Groningen has published an article on this subject in Nature Communications.

Scientists warn that saline lakes in dire situation worldwide

Mon, 23 Oct 17 00:07:20 -0700

Saline lakes around the world are shrinking in size at alarming rates. But what -- or who -- is to blame? Lakes like Utah's Great Salt Lake, Asia's Aral Sea, the Dead Sea in Jordan and Israel, China's huge Lop Nur and Bolivia's Lake Popo are just a few that are in peril. These lakes and others like them are suffering massive environmental problems according to a group of scientists and water managers in Utah and Montana.

Canada geese give hunters the slip by hiding out in Chicago

Mon, 23 Oct 17 00:15:50 -0700

It's open season for Canada geese in Illinois from mid-October to mid-January. Unfortunately for hunters, Canada geese are finding a new way to stay out of the line of fire. Rather than being 'sitting ducks' in a rural pond, they're setting up residence in the city. University of Illinois ornithologist Mike Ward says he and a team of researchers conducted a recent study to try to find out why there were so many Canada geese in Chicago in the winter.

New Peruvian bird species discovered by its song

Mon, 23 Oct 17 00:01:40 -0700

A new species of bird from the heart of Peru remained undetected for years until researchers identified it by its unique song.

Evolution in your back garden -- great tits may be adapting their beaks to birdfeeders

Thu, 19 Oct 17 00:02:00 -0700

A British enthusiasm for feeding birds may have caused UK great tits to have evolved longer beaks than their European counterparts, according to new research. The findings, published in Science, identify for the first time the genetic differences between UK and Dutch great tits which researchers were then able to link to longer beaks in UK birds.

Field trips of the future?

Thu, 19 Oct 17 00:03:30 -0700

Biologist Douglas McCauley examines the benefits and drawbacks of virtual and augmented reality in teaching environmental science.

How many golden eagles are there?

Wed, 18 Oct 17 00:01:50 -0700

For conservation to be effective, wildlife managers need to know how many individuals of a species are out there. When species are spread out over large areas and occur at low densities, this can be tricky. However, a new study applies an old technique called 'mark-recapture' in a novel way to count golden eagles, eliminating the need to actually capture and mark eagles with math that allows scientists to turn individual observations into population estimates.

DNA tests on albatross poo reveal secret diet of top predator

Wed, 18 Oct 17 00:06:30 -0700

A study that used DNA tests to analyse the scats of one of the world's most numerous albatrosses has revealed surprising results about the top predator's diet. DNA analysis of 1460 scats from breeding sites around the Southern Ocean has shown that the diet of black-browed albatrosses contains a much higher proportion of jellyfish than previously thought.

Even small amounts of oil made birds near Deepwater Horizon sick, researchers say

Wed, 18 Oct 17 00:15:40 -0700

Blood samples taken by first responders showed that individuals exposed to small amounts of oil from the spill suffered from hemolytic anemia--a condition that occurs when toxins enter the blood stream and damage red blood cells that carry oxygen to tissues.

Declining baby songbirds need forests to survive drought

Wed, 18 Oct 17 00:16:00 -0700

A team of Smithsonian biologists led by Brandt Ryder worked closely with Ben Vernasco, a doctoral candidate in biology at Virginia Tech, on a study that aimed to identify characteristics that promote healthy wood thrush populations on US Department of Defense land.

Even modest oil exposure can harm coastal and marine birds

Thu, 12 Oct 17 00:13:30 -0700

Many birds and other wildlife die following an oil spill, but there are also other potential long-terms effects of oil exposure on animals.

Livestock grazing management compatible with nesting greater sage-grouse

Thu, 12 Oct 17 00:01:30 -0700

A new study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management looks at whether management of livestock grazing may help protect sagebrush and birds that depend on it.

Grassland sparrows constantly searching for a nicer home

Wed, 11 Oct 17 00:13:00 -0700

Some birds regularly move to new territories between years, depending on factors including habitat quality and the presence of predators, but what about within a single breeding season? Grassland ecosystems are particularly dynamic, continuously shaped by fire and grazing, and a new study confirms that one particular grassland bird moves frequently each summer in search of the best territories. For grasshopper sparrows, the grass really does look greener on the other side.

Engineers identify key to albatross' marathon flight

Wed, 11 Oct 17 00:15:50 -0700

Engineers at MIT have developed a new model to simulate dynamic soaring, and have used it to identify the optimal flight pattern that an albatross should take in order to harvest the most wind and energy. They found that as an albatross banks or turns to dive down and soar up, it should do so in shallow arcs, keeping almost to a straight, forward trajectory.

Scientists complete conservation puzzle, shaping understanding of life on earth

Mon, 09 Oct 17 00:12:40 -0700

An international team of scientists have completed the 'atlas of life' -- the first global review and map of every vertebrate on Earth. Led by researchers at the University of Oxford and Tel Aviv University, the 39 scientists have produced a catalogue and atlas of the world's reptiles. By linking this atlas with existing maps for birds, mammals and amphibians, the team have found many new areas where conservation action is vital.

What soot-covered, hundred-year-old birds can tell us about saving the environment

Mon, 09 Oct 17 00:16:00 -0700

Birds in museum collections from Rust Belt cities around the turn of the century are covered with black soot from air pollution at the time. Scientists have compared the amount of soot on birds through the years to track envioronmental pollution over the last 135 years.

Birds reveal the importance of good neighbors for health and aging

Mon, 09 Oct 17 00:01:20 -0700

Birds who live next door to family members or to other birds they know well are physically healthier and age more slowly, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA). Scientists studied a population of Seychelles warblers to test whether territory owners with more related, or more familiar, neighbours had more peaceful territories and better health as a result.