Global relationships that determine bird diversity on islands uncovered

The study, a collection of molecular data from bird species found across 41 oceanic archipelagos, reveals how the area and isolation of islands are key to determining the diversity of species they contain. It is known that biodiversity is unevenly distributed across the planet. But why do some islands such as the Galápagos and Hawaii … Read more

Sweet beaks: What Galapagos finches and marine bacteria have in common

The variety of finch species on the remote Galapagos Islands is the most prominent example for Charles Darwin’s and Alfred R. Wallace’s theory of evolution through natural selection. Galapagos finch species have developed distinct beak sizes and shapes and thereby have adapted to different food sources. This exemplifies how even closely related species can effectively … Read more

What birdsong tells us about brain cells and learning

Most scientists who study the brain believe that memories are stored through networks of synapses, or connections that form between neurons. Learning takes place as neurons form new connections and strengthen or weaken existing ones, giving the brain its so-called synaptic plasticity. There is growing evidence, however, that the intrinsic, built-in properties of the cells … Read more

The consequences of craniofacial integration for the adaptive radiations of Darwin’s finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers

Darwin’s finches are among the most celebrated examples of adaptive radiation in the evolution of modern vertebrates and their study has been relevant since the journeys of the HMS Beagle in the eighteenth century which catalysed some of the first ideas about natural selection in the mind of a young Charles Darwin. Despite many years … Read more

In birds, as in people, a bigger group of friends isn’t always better

Carleton University’s Roslyn Dakin, professor in the Department of Biology, has recently discovered that there is a trade-off between having too many friends and having long-lasting friendships. Her research focused on a charismatic bird species called the wire-tailed manakin, and was published in PNAS, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences. [ad_336] The … Read more

Biologists recommend urgent action to protect California spotted owls

In the Pacific Northwest, the range expansion of Barred Owls has contributed to a conservation crisis for Northern Spotted Owls, which are being displaced from their old-growth forest habitat. How will this interaction between species play out in the Sierra Nevada, where Barred Owls are just starting to move into the range of the California … Read more

Hummingbirds’ rainbow colors come from pancake-shaped structures in their feathers

Hummingbirds are some of the most brightly-colored things in the entire world. Their feathers are iridescent– light bounces off them like a soap bubble, resulting in shimmering hues that shift as you look at them from different angles. While other birds like ducks can have bright feathers, nothing seems to come close to hummingbirds, and … Read more

Photos: Collection of new bird species discovered on small Wallacean islands

Hidden away on a trio of tiny and under-explored Wallacean islands off the eastern Indonesian coast, researchers discovered 10 new species and subspecies of songbirds, according to a new study, bringing a long-overlooked pocket of local biodiversity to light. The findings mark the largest number of new species identified from such a small geographically confined … Read more

African grey parrots spontaneously ‘lend a wing’

People and other great apes are known for their willingness to help others in need, even strangers. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on January 9 have shown for the first time that some birds – and specifically African grey parrots – are similarly helpful. “We found that African grey parrots voluntarily and spontaneously help familiar parrots … Read more