Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Backpack-toting birds help researchers reveal migratory divide, conservation hotspots

Date:
September 26, 2012
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
By outfitting two British Columbia subspecies of Swainson's thrushes with penny-sized, state-of-the-art geolocators, researchers have been able to map their wildly divergent migration routes and pinpoint conservation hotspots.

Captured Swainson's thrush wearing a geolocator.
Credit: Kira Delmore, UBC

By outfitting two British Columbia subspecies of Swainson's thrushes with penny-sized, state-of-the-art geolocators, University of British Columbia researchers have been able to map their wildly divergent migration routes and pinpoint conservation hotspots.

"Birds of a feather do not necessarily flock together," says Kira Delmore, a PhD student with UBC's Department of Zoology and lead author of the paper. "Our teams of thrushes took dramatically different routes to get to their wintering grounds, either south along the west coast to Central America, or southeast to Alabama and across the Gulf of Mexico to Columbia."

The study, to be published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, is the first to collect a complete year's worth of data from individual birds to document such a migratory divide.

"This detailed level of migration and stopover data helps us pinpoint vital feeding and rest habitats that the birds rely on at key points during their long journey -- just before crossing the Gulf of Mexico, for example," Delmore adds.

The researchers say the study also raises the possibility that migratory behavior may play a role in speciation, the process by which one species evolves into two.

"Given that migratory behavior is under genetic influence in many species of birds, these results raise the question of what hybrids between these two subspecies would do," says Darren Irwin, associate professor of Zoology at UBC and co-author of the paper. "One possibility is that hybrids would take an intermediate route, leading to more difficulties during migration. If so, the migratory differences might be preventing the two forms from blending into one."

Background

About Swainson's thrushes

Swainson's thrushes, with olive-brown feathers, lighter mottled undersides, and distinct light eye-rings, are typically 16 to 20 centimetres (seven inches) in length with a wingspan of 30 centimetres (one foot). They are not endangered.

Research methodology

UBC researchers caught 40 thrushes in June 2010 -- 20 each of a subspecies from Pacific Spirit Park near UBC in Vancouver and another from locations near Kamloops, B.C. The birds were lured into six-metre-wide mist nets with mating calls.

The geolocators used weigh 0.9 gram and with attachment materials they weight approximately four per cent of the body weight of a thrush.

Researchers then attached the newly invented geolocation devices, which record sunrise and sunset times, on the birds with special harnesses before releasing them. To collect the data, Delmore undertook the process in reverse a year later.

This research was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Environment Canada, and the Wilson Ornithological Society.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Kira E. Delmore, James W. Fox, and Darren E. Irwin. Dramatic intraspecific differences in migratory routes, stopover sites and wintering areas, revealed using light-level geolocators. Proc. R. Soc. B, September 26, 2012 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1229

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Backpack-toting birds help researchers reveal migratory divide, conservation hotspots." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120926094542.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2012, September 26). Backpack-toting birds help researchers reveal migratory divide, conservation hotspots. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120926094542.htm
University of British Columbia. "Backpack-toting birds help researchers reveal migratory divide, conservation hotspots." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120926094542.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. 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