The birds and the bats: Evolving to fly may have had big effect on gut microbiome

It’s no secret there’s a close relationship between humans and our microbiomes – the communities of microbes that live in and on us. In fact, researchers can usually guess what an animal’s gut microbiome might look like by studying closely related species. Or at least, that’s what they thought. It turns out that while there’s … Read more

Bird migration timing skewed by climate, new research finds

Life cycles for birds, insects and trees are shifting in this current era of a rapidly changing climate. How migration patterns, in particular, are changing and whether birds can track climate change is an open question. Kyle Horton, assistant professor at Colorado State University, led a new study analyzing nocturnal bird migration that he hopes … Read more

Carolina parakeet extinction was driven by human causes, DNA sequencing reveals

Researchers from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE, a joint institute of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)) in Barcelona and the Globe Institute at the University of Copenhagen have unveiled the genome of the Carolina parakeet, declared extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Researchers explored the … Read more

Changing wildfires in the California’s Sierra Nevada may threaten northern goshawks

Wildfire is a natural process in the forests of the western US, and many species have evolved to tolerate, if not benefit from it. But wildfire is changing. Research in the journal Biological Conservation, published by Elsevier, suggests fire, as it becomes more frequent and severe, poses a substantial risk to goshawks in the Sierra Nevada region. How … Read more

National Park Service scientists: Does aircraft noise make birds more vocal?

National Park Service scientists analyzed nearly 1 million 10-second audio recording samples from national parks across the country and discovered a small increase in bird sound detection when an aircraft sound is also detected. On average, across all parks monitored, the odds of hearing a bird sound increases by 2% when aircraft sound is detected … Read more

Migratory birds shrinking as climate warms, new analysis of four-decade record shows

North American migratory birds have been getting smaller over the past four decades, and their wings have gotten a bit longer. Both changes appear to be responses to a warming climate. Those are the main findings from a new University of Michigan-led analysis of a dataset of some 70,000 North American migratory birds from 52 … Read more

Researchers study chickens, ostriches, penguins to learn how flight feathers evolved

If you took a careful look at the feathers on a chicken, you’d find many different forms within the same bird – even within a single feather. The diversity of feather shapes and functions expands vastly when you consider the feathers of birds ranging from ostriches to penguins to hummingbirds. Now, researchers reporting in the … Read more