Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smithsonian scientists discover new bird species

18.08.2008
Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have discovered a new species of bird in Gabon, Africa, that was, until now, unknown to the scientific community.

Their findings were published in the international science journal Zootaxa.

The newly found olive-backed forest robin (Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus) was named by the scientists for its distinctive olive back and rump. Adult birds measure 4.5 inches in length and average 18 grams in weight. Males exhibit a fiery orange throat and breast, yellow belly, olive back and black feathers on the head. Females are similar, but less vibrant. Both sexes have a distinctive white dot on their face in front of each eye.

The bird was first observed by Smithsonian scientists in 2001 during a field expedition of the National Zoo's Monitoring and Assessment of Biodiversity Program in southwest Gabon. It was initially thought, however, to be an immature individual of an already-recognized species. Brian Schmidt, a research ornithologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and a member of the MAB program's team, returned to Washington, D.C., from Gabon in 2003 with several specimens to enter into the museum's bird collection. When he compared them with other forest robins of the genus Stiphrornis in the collection, Schmidt immediately noticed differences in color and plumage, and realized the newly collected birds might be unique.

"I suspected something when I found the first bird in Gabon since it didn't exactly match any of the species descriptions in the field guides," Schmidt said. "Once I was able to compare them side by side to other specimens in our collections it was clear that these birds were special. You, of course, have to be cautious, but I was still very excited at the prospect of possibly having found a new species of bird."

To ensure that the specimens Schmidt collected were a new species, geneticists at the Smithsonian's National Zoo compared the DNA of the new specimens to that of the four known forest robin species. The results clearly showed that these birds were in fact a separate and distinct species.

Discovering an unknown mammal or bird species is far from a common event. Before the 20th century, the rate of discoveries was great—several hundred new species were being described each decade. Since then, however, the pace has slowed and new species of vertebrates are generally only found in isolated areas.

Now officially recognized, the olive-backed forest robin brings Gabon's number of known bird species to 753. Other than its existence, however, little is known to science about this newcomer.

There is some knowledge about the species' habitat choice since all of the birds seen and heard in the wild were found in dense forest undergrowth. Other facts such as specific diet, mating and nesting habits, and the species' complete habitat range are all things that still need research.

"This discovery is very exciting for us," said Alfonso Alonso, who directs the Biodiversity Program in Gabon. The opportunity to study areas the tropics of Gabon allows scientists to learn about the organisms that live there and in turn develop plans to protect them in the future. "Finding the olive-backed forest robin strongly underscores the importance of our research. This helps us show the conservation importance of the area."

The MAB program is part of the Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability at the National Zoo. This particular study in the program is being conducted in the Gamba Complex of Protected Areas, a coastal region in southwestern Gabon containing the Loango and Moukalaba-Doudou National Parks with a restricted-access industrial corridor between them.

Scientists in the program are assessing the species diversity of the region, conducting applied research on the impact of management and development and providing biodiversity education programs locally to guide the regional conservation strategy. The program has partnered with the Gabonese government and Shell Gabon to integrate biodiversity conservation into energy development. The partnership has produced the first in-depth study of rainforest biodiversity in this area of Central Africa, provided relevant scientific advancements on the effects of development on biodiversity and identified conservation strategies for the long-term management of the area.

"Although finding an unknown species like the olive-backed forest robin was not the goal of the MAB project," Schmidt said, "it is definitely a reminder that the world still holds surprises for us."

John Gibbons | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.si.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>