Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research May Save Florida Bird, Help Conservationists Everywhere

23.02.2012
A team of researchers has found a key to the habitat puzzle for improving long-term survival of the endangered Florida Scrub-Jay.

New research published online today in The Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters shows that “clustered habitat networks” are needed to maintain the genetic diversity of Florida Scrub-Jays, a species at risk of extinction with just more than 5,000 birds left in the world.

The new research reveals, for the first time, a direct connection between genetic variation of Florida Scrub-Jay groups and geographic distances separating patches of their favored scrub-oak habitat. Researchers analyzed DNA samples of Florida Scrub-Jays and evaluated how genetic differences between them were affected by the gaps of habitat in between them. They found that if habitat patches were separated by more than 2 to 3 miles, the distance was too far to permit free interbreeding – thereby resulting in more inbreeding within isolated groups. Inbreeding reduces genetic fitness, and raises the risk that an isolated population will blink out.

“We now know how to configure the stepping stones of scrub-oak habitat so they can link together Florida Scrub-Jay populations and maintain sufficient genetic diversity to promote long-term survival of the species,” says John Fitzpatrick, co-author of the research and executive director of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “These research findings will be critical to a revision of the recovery plan for endangered Florida Scrub-Jays.”

Fitzpatrick says the findings lay out, for the first time, a precise prescription for sustaining fragmented populations of an endangered species, and could be a model for other examples around the country. For Florida Scrub-Jays, that prescription is to maintain or restore networks of the bird’s scrub-oak habitat so that individual preserves would be located within 2 to 3 miles of each other. Fitzpatrick says that because the Florida Scrub-Jay population is broken up into 10 distinct genetic units, these habitat networks would only need to be established locally within the 10 regions of individual populations, not across the bird’s entire range in Florida.

“We are now revising the Florida Scrub-Jay Recovery Plan to create the geometry of habitat preserves needed within each of the 10 units of the Florida-Scrub Jay population,” says Fitzpatrick, who also is a team leader for the group of government and university biologists working on submitting a revised Florida Scrub-Jay recovery plan to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by year’s end.

The Florida Scrub-Jay is the only bird found exclusively in Florida. It was added to the federal Endangered Species List in 1987, with a dwindling population down to less than 10 percent of its pre-settlement numbers. The high, dry, sandy scrub-oak patches where the bird lives and breeds exclusively have been prime real estate for Florida developers and for citrus farms. Today, only about 5 percent of the original scrub-oak habitat remains.

“The pizza is gone,” Fitzpatrick says. “We’re just trying to save the crumbs, so we can keep the Florida Scrub-Jay and a host of other scrub animals and plants in existence.”

Online access to the paper requires a subscription to Biology Letters, but copies of the paper are available to journalists upon request. To read an abstract of the paper, visit: rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/lookup/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2011.1244.

For more information on the Florida Scrub-Jay – including identification, range information and sample audio – go to www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Florida_Scrub-Jay/id/ac

John Carberry | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists on the road to discovering impact of urban road dust
18.01.2018 | University of Alberta

nachricht Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk
17.01.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>