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Birds general information

India brotherbear Offline
Grizzly Enthusiast
Bird beaks did not adapt to food types as previously thought
January 22, 2019
University of Bristol
A new study has shed some new light on how the beaks of birds have adapted over time. 
A study, led by the University of Bristol, has shed some new light on how the beaks of birds have adapted over time.

The observation that Galapagos finch species possessed different beak shapes to obtain different foods was central to the theory of evolution by natural selection, and it has been assumed that this form-function relationship holds true across all species of bird.
However, a new study published in the journal Evolution suggests the beaks of birds are not as adapted to the food types they feed on as it is generally believed.
An international team of scientists from the United Kingdom, Spain and the US used computational and mathematical techniques to better understand the connection between beak shapes and functions in living birds.
By measuring beak shape in a wide range of modern bird species from museum collections and looking at information about how the beak is used by different species to eat different foods, the team were able to assess the link between beak shape and feeding behaviour.
Professor Emily Rayfield, from the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, and senior author of the study, said: "This is, to our knowledge, the first approach to test a long-standing principle in biology: that the beak shape and function of birds is tightly linked to their feeding ecologies."

Guillermo Navalón, lead author of the study and a final year PhD student at Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, added: "The connection between beak shapes and feeding ecology in birds was much weaker and more complex than we expected and that while there is definitely a relationship there, many species with similarly shaped beaks forage in entirely different ways and on entirely different kinds of food.

"This is something that has been shown in other animal groups, but in birds this relationship was always assumed to be stronger."

Co-author, Dr Jesús Marugán-Lobón from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, said: "These results only made sense when you realise birds use the beak for literally everything!

"Therefore, also makes sense they evolved a versatile tool not just for getting food, but also to accomplish many other tasks."

The study is part of a larger research effort by the team in collaboration with researchers from other universities across Europe and the US to better understand the main drivers of the evolution of the skull in birds.

Dr Jen Bright, co-author from the University of South Florida, said: "We have seen similar results before in birds of prey, but this is the first time we studied the link between beak shape and ecology across all bird groups.
"We looked at a huge range of beak shapes and feeding ecologies: hummingbirds, eagles, parrots, puffins, flamingos, pretty much every beak you can think of." 
Guillermo Navalón added: "These results have important implications for the study of fossil birds.

"We have to be careful about inferring ecology in ancient birds, which we often assume based solely on the shape of the beak.

"Really, we're just starting to scratch the surface, and a lot more research is needed to fully understand the drivers behind beak shape evolution."
This research was funded by The Alumni Foundation, University of Bristol; the Spanish MINECO and the RCUK BBSRC funding.
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United Arab Emirates BorneanTiger Offline
Senior Member

The biggest parrot species from New Zealand to date has been discovered, that is the "Hercules parrot" (Heracles inexpectatus, nickname 'Squawkzilla'), do see this:

United Kingdom Sully Offline
Ecology and Conservation

Variation in abundances of common bird species associated with roads


  1. The global road network, currently over 45 million lane‐km in length, is expected to reach 70 million lane‐km by 2050, while the number of vehicles utilizing it is expected to double. Roads have been shown to affect a range of wildlife, including birds, but most studies have been relatively small scale.
  2. We use data from across Great Britain to analyse the relationships between roads and the spatial distributions of bird populations. We model counts of 51 common and widespread species from the U.K. Breeding Bird Survey in relation to road exposure, which we calculated for each count site using the density, distance and traffic volume of all roads within a 5‐km radius. In these models, we incorporate other factors known to affect bird populations, including agricultural intensity, human population, habitat and climate. Importantly, we also account for differences in detectability of birds near to roads.
  3. The abundances of 30 species were strongly significantly related to exposure to either major or minor roads. Species were generally in higher abundances with increasing exposure to minor roads (20/28). In contrast, most significant associations between major road exposure and bird abundance were negative (7/8).
  4. For species with significant effects of road exposure, we assessed how estimated abundance changed across the central 50% of road exposure experienced for each species. The mean decrease in abundance was 19% and the mean increase was 47%. These changes in bird abundance were up to half as large as those associated with increasing agricultural intensity, a factor often cited as a major cause of bird population changes.
  5. Synthesis and applications. Our research shows many species to vary in abundance with increasing road exposure. This suggests that roads may modify bird populations on a national scale and that their potential as drivers of biodiversity change should not be overlooked. Our work highlights the need for appropriate mitigation of roads, particularly in areas important for avian biodiversity. This could include efforts to reduce impacts of road noise and/or collisions, such as reduced speed limits or quieter road surfaces in sensitive areas.
"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb

Switzerland Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover

Just a glance through the photograph's camera...

Michele Bavassano: " “Birds Gallery”

In the lasts trips around the world I have seen a lot of birds.
Here 10 moments with 10 differents species of birds. "


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