Plight of farmland birds identified with new research

Nov 03, 2010
Plight of farmland birds identified with new research

Farmland birds that are poorer parents and less "brainy" are faring worse than other farmland bird species, a study at the University of Bristol has found. 

The new research, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that farmland birds are undergoing dramatic decline across the world, but some are suffering more than others.

Unexpectedly, the study also found that medium-sized birds, for example, starlings and skylarks in Europe, rather than large birds were found to suffer more in farmland, unlike studies of other animals in other habitats where the largest species have been found to fare worst. Birds with relatively large brains and traits associated with increased flexibility were considered to be less vulnerable, as were birds that invested more in their young (spending a longer period of time incubating eggs and feeding fledglings).

Dr. Michael Pocock, NERC Research Fellow in the University’s School of Biological Sciences, studied the features of farmland songbirds in Europe and North America to find which aspects of bird biology made them more likely to suffer as farming becomes increasingly intensive.

Dr. Pocock said: “Biodiversity faces extraordinary threats owing to environmental change, and many species are suffering rapid decline. Agricultural intensification is one of the major drivers of global environmental change. Its impacts on are well known and include population declines in Europe and North America.

“Although more work is needed, eventually we could predict, from aspects of their biology, which bird species will do poorly and to ensure conservation efforts can be focused more efficiently and effectively.”

Explore further: Sex? It all started 385 million years ago (w/ Video)

Related Stories

European birds flock to warming Britain

Jul 30, 2008

Researchers at Durham, the RSPB and Cambridge University have found that birds such as the Cirl Bunting and Dartford Warbler are becoming more common across a wide range of habitats in Britain as temperatures rise.

Society warns cuckoo bird in danger of extinction

May 28, 2009

(AP) -- Britain's cuckoo bird, known for its distinctive call, is in danger of extinction along with 51 other species, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said in a new report Thursday.

Recommended for you

'Red effect' sparks interest in female monkeys

Oct 17, 2014

Recent studies showed that the color red tends increase our attraction toward others, feelings of jealousy, and even reaction times. Now, new research shows that female monkeys also respond to the color red, ...

Roads negatively affect frogs and toads, study finds

Oct 17, 2014

The development of roads has a significant negative and pervasive effect on frog and toad populations, according to a new study conducted by a team of researchers that included undergraduate students and ...

All in a flap: Seychelles fears foreign bird invader

Oct 17, 2014

It was just a feather: but in the tropical paradise of the Seychelles, the discovery of parakeet plumage has put environmentalists in a flutter, with a foreign invading bird threatening the national parrot.

Amphibians being wiped out by emerging viruses

Oct 16, 2014

Scientists tracing the real-time impact of viruses in the wild have found that entire amphibian communities are being killed off by closely related viruses introduced to mountainous areas of northern Spain.

User comments : 0