The only bird species unique to the state of Florida is the endangered Florida Scrub-Jay—and this week, new research took a step forward in devising ways to protect the 5,000 or so birds that remain. The work was published in the scientific journal Biology Letters on Wednesday and appeared in online news today and in a press release by the Cornell Lab.
The main threat to this brash, attractive, blue-and-gray bird is its unwillingness to stray from its unique scrub habitat in central Florida. Most of the jays live their entire lives on a single patch of scrub, rarely venturing out over unfamiliar habitat even if more suitable habitat is just a few miles away. This has become a major problem as development has spread across Florida. As subdivisions and citrus groves spring up, the jays face shrinking patches of their scrub habitat and ever-growing gaps of unfamiliar—to them, more or less uncrossable—land.
The new research evaluated this reluctance to travel for the first time in genetic terms. The authors found a clear relationship between the distance of unfavorable habitat that separated jay populations, and the genetic differences between those populations. The bigger the gap, the less often members of the two groups interbred. The evidence suggested groups separated by more than two or three miles did not regularly interbreed.
Armed with this knowledge, researchers can now use it to suggest ways to keep the remaining jays from becoming reproductively isolated and from suffering the problems of inbreeding. By ensuring that clusters of suitable habitat exist within two to three miles of each other, they can improve the chances that jays from different groups mingle with each other and that individual populations do not dwindle away. For more about the work, see our press release. For more about the birds themselves, Living Bird magazine has this article about the unique lifestyle of the Florida Scrub-Jay.
This article was written by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
You may also like:
Leave a Comment
Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days
- POLL: Should the trophy hunting of giraffes be banned? » [2290 Views]
- Tiger family photo surprises scientists » [953 Views]
- Poll: Do you agree that shooting pheasants is good for the countryside? » [782 Views]
- POLL: Should the kill quota on cougars be increased in New Mexico? » [778 Views]
- Poll: Should UK towns and cities be allowed to clip seagulls’ wings? » [719 Views]
- Extreme birdwatching: Twitching in war zones » [664 Views]
- Blue-Bearded Helmetcrest Rediscovered in Colombia, Photographed for First Time » [522 Views]
- POLL: Should spring hunting on Malta be stopped? » [462 Views]
- Rembrandt’s monkey: good news for Africa’s newest primate » [457 Views]
- Peregrine falcon found shot dead at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s headquarters » [449 Views]
Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months
- » POLL: Should the ban on fox hunting be relaxed in the UK? [10680 Views]
- POLL: Should the trophy hunting of giraffes be banned? » [4889 Views]
- Petition: Stop Lion Canned Hunting in South Africa – Shocking Video » [4160 Views]
- POLL: Should lion canned hunting be banned in South Africa? » [3659 Views]
- Komodo and its Dragons » [3657 Views]
- POLL: Should bear hunting be banned in the US? » [3451 Views]
- Poll: Should hunting of black bears in Florida be allowed? » [2965 Views]
- POLL: Should the slaughter of wolves in British Columbia be banned? » [2939 Views]
- Join the 1st World Giraffe Day and help save these gentle giants » [2872 Views]
- POLL: Should the wolf hunting contest in Idaho be stopped? » [2682 Views]