Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Free as a bird? Human development affects bird flight patterns and populations

Date:
November 8, 2010
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
It may seem like birds have the freedom to fly wherever they like, but researchers have shown that what's on the ground has a great effect on where a bird flies. This information could be used by foresters and urban planners to improve bird habitats that would help maintain strong bird populations.

MU fisheries and wildlife researcher Dylan Kesler examines a bird prior to attaching a transmitter to its back. Kesler is studying how gaps in forests can affect birds' travel patterns.
Credit: Courtesy of University of Missouri

It may seem like birds have the freedom to fly wherever they like, but researchers at the University of Missouri have shown that what's on the ground has a great effect on where a bird flies. This information could be used by foresters and urban planners to improve bird habitats that would help maintain strong bird populations.

"Movement of individuals influences nearly every aspect of biology, from the existence of a single population to interactions within and among species," said Dylan Kesler, assistant professor in fisheries and wildlife at the University of Missouri's School of Natural Resources. "Movement determines where individual birds procreate. How they spread across the landscape affects who meets whom, which in turn dictates how genes are spread."

Kesler has found that non-migrating resident birds tend to travel over forest "corridors," which are areas protected by trees and used by wildlife to travel. Birds choose to travel over forests because they can make an easier escape from predators as well as find food. Man-made features such as roads, as well as gaps forests from agriculture or rivers, can restrict birds to certain areas. When forests are removed, bird populations become isolated and disconnected, which can lead to inbreeding and weaker, more disease-prone birds.

Earlier this summer, Kesler and MU graduate student Allison Cox tagged 33 juvenile red-bellied woodpeckers in Missouri's Mark Twain National Forest. Kesler chose to study the red-bellied woodpecker because the bird lives in the same area year-round and is very loyal to specific sites. The tags used by the researchers enable their team to track the birds' daily flights using radiotelemetry and GPS technology. The tags are designed to fall off the birds after four months. The summer and fall months are important because this is when young birds are most active, establishing territories and finding mates, studies say.

The research team also hopes to discover more about natal dispersal, the time interval between when a bird moves from where it is hatched to an area where it will breed. Very little is known about what influences natal dispersal.

"In many territorial resident birds, natal dispersal is the only time an individual bird makes a substantial movement from one location to another," Kesler said. "Natal dispersal is, therefore, integral to gene flow among populations, colonizing vacant habitat, inbreeding avoidance and maintaining optimal population densities."

This year's work builds upon research Kesler has been conducting since 2005 on three species of woodpeckers and two Pacific island kingfishers. The study is funded by a University of Missouri program to encourage new faculty. Results will be published this fall in conservation-oriented science journals. Results from Kesler's previous research about dispersal appeared in the nation's top ornithological journal, The Auk, and another paper will soon be published in Behavioral Ecology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Free as a bird? Human development affects bird flight patterns and populations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831164946.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2010, November 8). Free as a bird? Human development affects bird flight patterns and populations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831164946.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Free as a bird? Human development affects bird flight patterns and populations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831164946.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. 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