Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Zealand Bird Outwits Alien Predators

Date:
June 10, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
New research which found that the New Zealand bellbird is capable of changing its nesting behavior to protect itself from predators, could be good news for island birds around the world at risk of extinction.

Bellbird Anthornis melanura feeding in New Zealand.
Credit: Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

New research led by Dr Melanie Massaro and Dr Jim Briskie at the University of Canterbury, which found that the New Zealand bellbird is capable of changing its nesting behaviour to protect itself from predators, could be good news for island birds around the world at risk of extinction.

Related Articles


The introduction of predatory mammals such as rats, cats and stoats to oceanic islands has led to the extinction of many endemic island birds, and exotic predators continue to threaten the survival of 25 percent of all endangered bird species worldwide.

Dr Massaro says the impact of exotic predators on the native birds of oceanic islands is particularly profound as they evolved over millions of years largely in the absence of these predators and appear naοve towards newly introduced mammals.

But their study on the bellbird, an endemic New Zealand bird, has identified the ability of a previously naοve island bird to change its nesting behaviour in response to the introduction of a large suite of exotic mammalian predators by humans.

Bellbirds were studied at three sites with varying levels of predation risk: a mainland site with exotic predators present (high risk); a mainland site with exotic predators experimentally removed (recent low risk); and an offshore island where exotic predators have never been introduced (permanent low risk).

It was found that females spent more time on the nest per incubating bout with increased risk of predation, a strategy that minimised activity at the nest and decreased the risk of an exotic predator locating and destroying the eggs.

"Parental activity during the nestling period, measured as number of feeding visits per hour, also decreased with increasing nest predation risk across sites, which would further reduce the risk of an exotic predator destroying the nest," Dr Massaro said.

"It shows that such species are not necessarily trapped by their evolutionary history as is generally considered to be the case but they, in fact, have the ability to change their behaviours in ways that appear adaptive.

"More importantly, this study demonstrates that such a change can occur over an ecologically relevant time-scale of years and not centuries."

Drs Massaro and Briskie say although their research was done on New Zealand birds, the conclusions are applicable worldwide. They believe conservation efforts towards the survival of other island birds could be more effective if advantage was taken of the ability of island birds to respond to exotic predators, especially when the elimination of such predators is not possible.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Massaro et al. Introduced Mammalian Predators Induce Behavioural Changes in Parental Care in an Endemic New Zealand Bird. PLoS ONE, 2008; 3 (6): e2331 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002331

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "New Zealand Bird Outwits Alien Predators." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080604074920.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, June 10). New Zealand Bird Outwits Alien Predators. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080604074920.htm
Public Library of Science. "New Zealand Bird Outwits Alien Predators." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080604074920.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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