Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient birds from North America colonized the South, thanks to Panama land bridge

Date:
July 14, 2010
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
Scientists studying ancient species migration believe northern birds had the ability to colonize continents that southern species lacked. The research reveals how the ancient 'land bridge' of Panama, which first connected North and South America, caused an uneven species migration, leading to a new understanding of species diversity today.

Topographic map with a marker at the city of Panama, Panama. World map texture courtesy of NASA (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov).
Credit: iStockphoto/Frank Ramspott

Scientists studying ancient species migration believe northern birds had the ability to colonise continents that southern species lacked. The research, published in Ecography, reveals how the ancient 'land bridge' of Panama, which first connected North and South America, caused an uneven species migration, leading to a new understanding of species diversity today.

The continents of North and South America were historically isolated until they were abruptly joined three million years ago through the tectonic uplift of Central America and the formation of a land corridor in modern day Panama, creating a land bridge.

"This connection allowed an unprecedented degree of intercontinental exchange between species that had been isolated for millions of years," said lead author Brian Tilston Smith from the University of Nevada. "However the relatively poor fossil record has prevented us from understanding how the land bridge shaped New World bird communities."

Using molecular data and phylogenetic evidence from 11 orders, 34 families, and over 100 genera of bird species the team applied a 'molecular clock' to estimate the historical timing of the migration, giving a unique insight into how the ancient history of American bird migration led to present day species diversity across the equator.

The results reveal that while ancient birds could fly most species did not cross the water between the two isolated continents, so were subject to the same constraints as their land based mammalian counterparts. The land bridge was therefore crucial in facilitating cross continental migration.

"This inter-continental migration was far from even. While within the tropics around the equator exchange was equal in both directions, between the temperate zones of North and South America it was not," said Smith. "Avian lineages from the northern Nearctic regions have repeatedly invaded the tropics and radiated throughout South America. In contract species with South American tropical origins remain largely restricted to the confines of the tropical regions."

Existing studies show that in mammals 50% of modern South American species have Northern origins whereas only 10% of species from the North originated in the South. The team found that this pattern is also reflected in birds. When considering the perching birds oscine and suboscine the team found that despite having northern ancestral origins, 55% of New World oscine species now breed in South America, many of them in tropical habitats. In contrast, only 2.4% of suboscines have secondarily adapted to North American temperate zone habitats.

"Our study suggests the formation of the Panama land bridge was crucial for allowing cross continental bird migration," concluded Smith. "We believe that the ability of species to colonise and radiate across this area represents an important and underappreciated factor to the distribution of species around the equator."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brian Tilston Smith, John Klicka. The profound influence of the Late Pliocene Panamanian uplift on the exchange, diversification, and distribution of New World birds. Ecography, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2009.06335.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "Ancient birds from North America colonized the South, thanks to Panama land bridge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713091441.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2010, July 14). Ancient birds from North America colonized the South, thanks to Panama land bridge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713091441.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "Ancient birds from North America colonized the South, thanks to Panama land bridge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713091441.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. 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