Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Asymmetrical Birds May Soon Be At-Risk

Date:
April 9, 2002
Source:
Society For Conservation Biology
Summary:
If conservationists could foretell the future, they'd want to know which animal populations are about to decline. New research shows that monitoring for subtle asymmetries -- such as differences in bone length in the right and left feet -- may do the trick in birds.

If conservationists could foretell the future, they'd want to know which animal populations are about to decline. New research shows that monitoring for subtle asymmetries -- such as differences in bone length in the right and left feet -- may do the trick in birds.

This work suggests that "asymmetry can serve as an early warning system in conservation," say Luc Lens of the University of Antwerp in Wilrijk, Belgium, and two co-authors in the April issue of Conservation Biology.

The idea is that environmental stress during development can cause small left-right asymmetries that are evident before a population actually begins to decline. While this would be a great conservation tool, previous studies have been ambiguous.

To determine whether there is a correlation between asymmetry and vulnerability, Lens and his colleagues both measured the right and left footbones of 260 Taita thrushes, and estimated the birds' survival probability. These shy orange-brown-and-white birds are down to about 1,400 individuals and are found only in three forest fragments (Mbololo, Ngangao and Chawia) in southeastern Kenya's Taita Hills. Forest degradation is lowest in Mbololo, moderate in Ngangao and highest in Chawia. The Taita Hills are part of the Eastern Arc Mountain, which is considered among the 17 most endangered biodiversity hotspots worldwide.

The results suggest that asymmetry is evident in Taita thrush populations before they begin to decline, suggesting that it can be used to predict vulnerability to extinction. Lens and his colleagues found that thrushes in the more disturbed fragments had more asymmetry. Specifically, asymmetry was 2.5 times higher in the moderately disturbed fragment and 8 times higher in the most disturbed fragment than in the least disturbed fragment. However, only thrushes in the most disturbed fragment also had a lower survival rate; the survival rate of thrushes in the moderately disturbed fragment was the same as that in the least disturbed fragment.

"Higher levels of habitat disturbance were reflected by increased population levels of asymmetry before a decrease in survival became apparent," conclude the researchers.

Lens' co-authors are: Stefan Van Dongen and Erik Matthysen, who are both also at the University of Antwerp in Wilrijk, Belgium.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society For Conservation Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society For Conservation Biology. "Asymmetrical Birds May Soon Be At-Risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020402072927.htm>.
Society For Conservation Biology. (2002, April 9). Asymmetrical Birds May Soon Be At-Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020402072927.htm
Society For Conservation Biology. "Asymmetrical Birds May Soon Be At-Risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020402072927.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Possible Ebola Patient in Isolation at California Hospital

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 20, 2014) — A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus is in isolation at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins