As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Feather forensics: scientist uses genes to track macaws, aid bird conservation

June 17, 2014

Highway development may isolate bird populations in Brazil, Peru 

When a massive road project connected the ports of Brazil to the shipping docks of Peru in 2011, spanning the South American continent, conservationists predicted widespread impacts on wildlife living along the route that stretches almost 5,500 kilometers (about 3,400 miles). Roads are a well-documented source of habitat fragmentation, interfering with access to available habitat for many terrestrial and tree-dwelling species. However, it wasn’t clear whether or not birds are able to fly over these barriers. George Olah, a biologist from the Australian National University, set out to see if they can. 

Olah was already studying the genetics of scarlet macaws (Ara macao) in a remote area of southeastern Peru when the Transoceanic Highway was built through the middle of his research area. He realized that the forensic genetics techniques he was using to learn more about the local macaw population might also uncover evidence of the road’s impact on the birds. 

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