But now, thanks to some keen detective work, the largest woodpecker that ever lived can be seen by the world once more – and this 85-second flight through time offers us a lesson about its behavior, and ours.
“It is stunning to look back through time with this film and see the magnificent imperial woodpecker moving through its old-growth forest environment, said research associate Martjan Lammertink, lead author of the paper along with four Cornell Lab of Ornithology staff members and two Mexican biologists. “And it is heartbreaking to know that both the bird and the forest are gone.”
The imperial woodpecker was thought to have gone extinct without anyone ever capturing photos or film of the 2-foot-tall, flamboyantly crested bird. That was until a biologist from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology tracked down a 16-mm film shot in 1956 by a dentist from Pennsylvania. The footage, which captures the last confirmed sighting of an imperial woodpecker in the wild, is available for viewing at www.birds.cornell.edu/imperialfilm.
In the color film, a female imperial woodpecker hitches up and forages on the trunks of large Durango pines and then launches into flight.
The film was shot by William Rhein with a hand-held camera from the back of a mule while camping in a remote location in the Sierra Madre Occidental in Durango state. In March 2010, Lammertink and Tim Gallagher of the Cornell Lab launched an expedition with members of the conservation group Pronatura Noroeste to identify and survey the film site. The expedition turned up no evidence that imperial woodpeckers are still alive.
The entire range of the imperial woodpecker lay in the high country of the Sierra Madre Occidental – a rugged mountain range stretching some 900 miles south from the U.S.-Mexico border – and the Transvolcanic mountains of central Mexico. The species largely vanished in the late 1940s and 1950s as logging destroyed their old-growth pine forest habitat. Imperial woodpeckers were also frequently shot for food, to use in folk remedies or out of curiosity.
The imperial woodpecker was the closest relative of the ivory-billed woodpecker, which suffered a similar decline from habitat loss in the southeastern United States and Cuba. A 2005 study by the Cornell Lab reported the rediscovery of an ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas, but subsequent region-wide surveys did not find evidence of a surviving population.
The research appears in the October 2011 issue of The Auk, the journal of the American Ornithologists’ Union. In addition to Lammertink and Gallagher, authors of the article include Kenneth V. Rosenberg, John Fitzpatrick and Eric Liner of the Cornell Lab, and Jorge Rojas-Tomé of Organización Vida Silvestre and Patricia Escalante of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Nota: los miembros del equipo de investigación y científicos de conservación Martjan Lammertink, del laboratorio de ornitología en Cornell y Patricia Escalante, de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, están disponibles para ser entrevistados en español.
John Carberry | Newswise Science News
Funding of Collaborative Research Center developing nanomaterials for cancer immunotherapy extended
28.06.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Zeolite catalysts pave the road to decentral chemical processes Confined space increases reactivity
28.06.2017 | Technische Universität München
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine