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.
Share on social media:
You may also like:
Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days
- POLL: Should Canada ban the hunting of seals? [2449 Views]
- POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farming? [1533 Views]
- POLL: Should Japan be sanctioned for slaughtering Minke whales? [1483 Views]
- POLL: Should the USDA stop using cyanide bombs to control predators? [1428 Views]
- POLL: Should Alaska’s refuges be opened for hunting again? [1368 Views]
- POLL: Should wild elephants be sold to Chinese zoos? [1228 Views]
- POLL: Should Norway stop the annual slaughter of whales? [1126 Views]
- Badger buries entire cow in shocking new video [1048 Views]
- Is ‘Baiting’ an ethical way to photograph wild owls? [916 Views]
- POLL: Should the sale of rhino horns be legalized? [829 Views]
Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months
- White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [42073 Views]
- POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16836 Views]
- POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [14116 Views]
- Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [12619 Views]
- POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11131 Views]
- POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8639 Views]
- POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8315 Views]
- POLL: Should black bears be killed for Royal Guards’ fur caps? [8061 Views]
- POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7427 Views]
- POLL: Should the trophy hunting of giraffes be banned? [5377 Views]