Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mauritius kestrels show long-term legacy of human-made habitat change

Date:
February 20, 2014
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
The widespread loss of forest to sugarcane fields on the island of Mauritius has forced kestrels living there to survive by speeding up their life histories, according to a report. By getting an earlier start, the birds are managing to have just as many offspring, even though they die sooner. Those changes to the kestrels' life history are apparently driven entirely by their early life experiences, the researchers say. The researchers analyzed 23 years of longitudinal data on the Mauritius kestrel to find that females born in territories affected by habitat change shifted investment in reproduction to earlier in life at the expense of late life performance.

Mauritius kestrel.
Credit: Samantha J. Cartwright

The widespread loss of forest to sugarcane fields on the island of Mauritius has forced kestrels living there to survive by speeding up their life histories, according to a report published online on February 20 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology. By getting an earlier start, the birds are managing to have just as many offspring, even though they die sooner.

Those changes to the kestrels' life history are apparently driven entirely by their early life experiences, the researchers say.

"This adaptive, plastic response is a testament to how resilient this species is," says Samantha Cartwright, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Reading and lead author on the study. "It has narrowly avoided extinction in the 20th century and is now persisting in a landscape very different from what it would have originally evolved to occupy."

The kestrels' future remains in doubt, given that less than two percent of the native forest that once covered Mauritius remains today. Kestrels already can't live at all on many parts of the island, most of which has been converted to agricultural land.

In 1974, Mauritius kestrels were labeled "the rarest birds in the world," with only four individuals living in the wild. They are now the most intensively monitored wild tropical raptors in the world, which made them a good case study for questions about the effects of habitat change.

The researchers analyzed 23 years of longitudinal data on the Mauritius kestrel to find that females born in territories affected by habitat change shifted investment in reproduction to earlier in life at the expense of late life performance. They also had lower survival rates as young adults.

"We found that birds from both types of habitat still ultimately produce the same number of offspring in a lifetime," Cartwright says. "The strategy is a good one: breeding when younger compensates for the increased risk of dying sooner."

While the birds may be making it for now, Cartwright emphasizes that their shifted life history should serve as a warning about the extent to which human activities have already influenced wild species.

"Taken together, our results suggest that human activities can have a persistent effect on the life histories of wild organisms through natal environmental effects," the researchers write. "Given the ubiquity of human-induced habitat change, the patterns we report could be widespread but remain poorly documented due to the short-term nature of most studies that attempt to quantify only the immediate impact of habitat change on fitness traits."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. SamanthaJ. Cartwright, MalcolmA.C. Nicoll, CarlG. Jones, Vikash Tatayah, Ken Norris. Anthropogenic Natal Environmental Effects on Life Histories in a Wild Bird Population. Current Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.040

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Mauritius kestrels show long-term legacy of human-made habitat change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220132158.htm>.
Cell Press. (2014, February 20). Mauritius kestrels show long-term legacy of human-made habitat change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220132158.htm
Cell Press. "Mauritius kestrels show long-term legacy of human-made habitat change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220132158.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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