Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Migratory Birds Help Spread Plant Species: UConn Study

17.06.2014

This time of year, many in the country are watching warily as pollen floats far and wide on the wind, enabling plants to reproduce but also causing sneezes and watery eyes.

But a new study out of the University of Connecticut demonstrates for the first time how some plants travel not just across the backyard, but as far as from Northern to Southern hemispheres on the wings of migratory birds.


Each year, 500,000 American golden plovers fly between Arctic North America and South America. These birds may carry hundreds of thousands of microscopic plant parts, called diaspores, in their feathers. (Photo by Jean-François Lamarre)

The findings, published in the online journal PeerJ, offer critical insight into the ecology and evolution of plants that are represented across both continents of the Americas.

Led by Lily Lewis, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the study found 23 regenerative plant diaspores – plant seeds or spores – trapped in the feathers of migratory birds leaving the Arctic harbor for South America.

... more about:
»Biology »Birds »Plant »breast »seeds »tropics

“Scientists have always assumed that birds might be responsible for dispersing the seeds,” says Emily Behling ’15 (CLAS), a UConn undergraduate who contributed to the study. “But this bugged Lily. She wanted to know what was really going on.”

Although wind is the primary means for long-distance dispersal of diaspores around the world, it is an unlikely candidate for explaining distribution between the hemispheres. Yet previous evidence of birds dispersing plant seeds or spores across the tropics had been only circumstantial.

The researchers studied American golden plovers, semipalmated sandpipers, and red phalaropes – all birds that breed in coastal tundra. Many of the plant parts found in their feathers belonged to mosses, which are especially hardy plants and often need only one dispersal event to establish in a new place, says Lewis.

The behavior of these migrant birds in their northern breeding grounds likely promotes their inadvertent acquisition of diaspores, according to the study. Shallow nests are constructed by scraping depressions into the ground with breast, feet, and beaks, and are commonly lined with plant materials.

The timing of molt and migratory behavior also increases the likelihood of attached diaspores being dispersed across the birds’ migratory range.

The post-migratory molt and terrestrial destinations of American golden plovers and semipalmated sandpipers are compatible with the requirements for dispersal across the equator. The majority of migratory shorebirds with non-breeding grounds in the Southern Hemisphere provide similar opportunities for diaspore dispersal, with the molt typically occurring on the southern non-breeding grounds.

Funding for the research came from University of Connecticut Katie Bu Memorial Fund, a Switzer Environmental Fellowship awarded to Lewis, and the National Science Foundation.

This summer, Behling will present the study findings at the national Evolution 2014 conference in North Carolina.

Behling also plans to continue the research by examining the DNA of the plant particles found in the feathers to learn more about the plants that are being dispersed by the migratory birds.

Colin Poitras | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2014/06/migratory-birds-help-spread-plant-species-uconn-study/

Further reports about: Biology Birds Plant breast seeds tropics

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>