Study provides insights into birds' migration routes

Jul 21, 2014
A songbird. Credit: Darren Irwin

By tracking hybrids between songbird species, investigators have found that migration routes are under genetic control and could be preventing interbreeding. The research, which is published in Ecology Letters, was conducted using geolocators that, like GPS, record the position of a bird and allow its long distance movement to be tracked.

Compared with their parents, hybrids exhibited increased variability in their : some used intermediate routes across less suitable areas, while others used the same routes as one parental group on fall migration and the other on spring migration.

"This is the first time we've been able to track songbirds over the entire annual cycle, and the data we collected support a longstanding hypothesis in ecological speciation, that differences in migratory behavior could be acting as postmating reproductive isolating barriers," said lead author Kira Delmore.

Explore further: New study shows that migration flyways and winter destinations of sparrows are unique to each bird

More information: Delmore, K.E. and Irwin, D.E. Hybrid songbirds employ intermediate routes in a migratory divide. Ecology Letters (2014). DOI: 10.1111/ele.12326.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Environmental conditions may impact bird migration

May 14, 2014

Wind conditions during spring migration may be a predictor of apparent annual survival and the timing of breeding in yellow warblers, according to results published May 14, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Ann ...

Puffins 'scout out' best migration route

Jul 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Individual Atlantic puffins 'scout out' their own migration routes rather than relying on genetic ‘programming’ or learning routes from a parent, a new study suggests.

Recommended for you

Global wild tiger population to be counted by 2016

19 hours ago

Thirteen countries with wild tiger populations agreed Tuesday to take part in a global count to establish how many of the critically endangered animals are left and improve policies to protect them.

Scientists discover tropical tree microbiome in Panama

Sep 15, 2014

Human skin and gut microbes influence processes from digestion to disease resistance. Despite the fact that tropical forests are the most biodiverse terrestrial ecosystems on the planet, more is known about ...

How are hybridized species affecting wildlife?

Sep 15, 2014

Researchers who transplanted combinations of wild, domesticated, and domesticated-wild hybridized populations of a fish species to new environments found that within 5 to 11 generations, selection could remove ...

User comments : 0