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.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Plumage evolution: Explaining the vivid colors of birds


Date: November 4, 2016
Source: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University - OIST

During his notable trip to the Galápagos Islands, Charles Darwin collected several mockingbird specimens on different islands in the region. He later discovered that each island only contained a single species of mockingbird and no two species of mockingbird co-existed on an individual island. Due to their geographical separation, over time these birds had evolved different characteristics in coloration, behavior, and beak shape. These observations raise the question: how does a geographical region influence the evolution of a species?

Tropical birds are well known for their colorful appearance: vibrantly colored macaws, parakeets and parrots are widely considered to be the quintessential birds of this region. The popularity of these birds leads many to assume that tropical climates are home to a greater proportion of colorful birds than temperate climates. But do birds evolve to become more colorful when they move to the tropics? Research from Dr. Nicholas Friedman, who is part of the Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), helps answer this question.

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