evolution

Journal Club: Polly gets his own cracker: clever cockatoo manufactures, uses tools | video |

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Polly gets his own cracker: clever cockatoo manufactures, uses tools | video | by Grrlscientist 21 November 2012

SUMMARY: Not known to manufacture or use tools in the wild, a captive cockatoo demonstrates that parrots can make tools to suit their needs.   If you’ve ever lived with a parrot, then you are well aware that they come with a built-in multi-purpose tool attached to their faces. For this reason, most parrots do [...]

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Journal Club: Sing for your supper: fairy-wren chicks must sing vocal password for food

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Sing for your supper: fairy-wren chicks must sing vocal password for food by Grrlscientist 14 November 2012

SUMMARY: Female fairy-wrens teach their chicks a vocal password before they hatch to distinguish them from brood parasitic bronze-cuckoo chicks How do parents recognize their offspring when the cost of making an error is high? To avoid wasting valuable time and energy by raising chicks of another species that commonly sneaks eggs into its nest, [...]

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Journal Club: One-eyed wooing

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: One-eyed wooing by Grrlscientist 10 October 2012

SUMMARY: A newly published study shows that beauty is in the right eye of the beholder for birds, providing the first demonstration in any animal of visual lateralization of mate choice. Conservation biologists are well aware that the most challenging part of their job is to convince their animals to breed — it’s certainly not [...]

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Journal Club: Wild parrots name their babies | video |

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Wild parrots name their babies | video | by Grrlscientist 22 September 2012

SUMMARY: Wild green-rumped parrotlet parents give their babies their own individual names People who live with parrots know that they can mimic their human care-givers as well as many of the common sounds in their environment. Although such mimicry is delightful, it does raise the question of what purpose does vocal mimicry serve for wild [...]

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Journal Club: Extinct Carolina parakeet provides glimpse into evolution of American parrots

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Extinct Carolina parakeet provides glimpse into evolution of American parrots by Grrlscientist 19 September 2012

SUMMARY: DNA obtained for the first time from extinct Carolina parakeets reveals their closest relatives and provides insight into the evolution of New World parrots .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. The Carolina parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis (pictured above), was the only endemic parrot in the United States. It had one [...]

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Journal Club: The economics of tree swallow brood sex ratios

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: The economics of tree swallow brood sex ratios by Grrlscientist 14 December 2011

Tree Swallow brood sex ratios SUMMARY: Tree swallows reveal that brood sex ratios are an economic balancing act with far-reaching evolutionary consequences Skewed sex ratios have been widely discussed in the news. But a demographic imbalance in the sexes is not purely a human phenomenon: it can occur throughout the animal kingdom. Several studies have [...]

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Inside the AMNH Collections: Ornithology

Thumbnail image for Inside the AMNH Collections: Ornithology by Grrlscientist 23 November 2011

SUMMARY: This video takes you on a behind-the-scenes tour through the largest and most complete ornithology collection in the world.   Natural history collections are important. These collections, usually maintained by a museum, make up a library that scientists consult to answer all sorts of questions, from deciphering evolutionary relationships of the Hawaiian honeycreepers to [...]

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Journal Club: Evolution of the Hawai’ian honeycreepers

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Evolution of the Hawai’ian honeycreepers by Grrlscientist 2 November 2011

Hawaiian Honeycreeper evolution SUMMARY: Using a large DNA data set, researchers have identified the progenitor of Hawaiian honeycreepers and have linked their rapid evolution to the geological formation of the four main Hawaiian Islands .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of [...]

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Journal Club: Jumping genes reveal birds and their sex chromosomes evolved together

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Jumping genes reveal birds and their sex chromosomes evolved together by Grrlscientist 26 October 2011

SUMMARY: Avian retroposons — “jumping genes” — reveal that birds and their sex chromosomes evolved together, and provide us with important clues into the evolution of sex chromosomes and sex in general Like mammals, the sex of individual birds is determined by the combination of sex chromosomes they get from their parents at fertilization. But [...]

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Journal Club: Why are there so many bird species in the tropics?

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Why are there so many bird species in the tropics? by Grrlscientist 17 August 2011

SUMMARY: What can we learn about evolution, geography and biodiversity by studying continental patterns of speciation? Since before the time of dinosaurs, species diversity is related to latitude. Basically, species richness increases as distance from the equator decreases. As any sweaty bird watcher dragging a heavy field guide through the tropics will tell you, this [...]

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Journal Club: The decline and fall of showy bustards

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: The decline and fall of showy bustards by Grrlscientist 10 August 2011

SUMMARY: intense early reproductive effort takes a toll on long-term survival of individual male houbara bustards by leading to early declines in fertility and early ageing Why do we get old and die? Why hasn’t natural selection “weeded out” those genes responsible for age-related declines? Several hypotheses have been proposed, with the most important pointing [...]

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Journal Club: American crows: the ultimate angry birds?

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: American crows: the ultimate angry birds? by Grrlscientist 6 July 2011

Newly published research shows that crows remember the faces of humans who have threatened or harmed them, and these memories probably last for the bird’s lifetime. Not only do crows scold dangerous people, but they include family members — and even strangers — into their mob. The hostile behaviour of crows within mobs allows naïve [...]

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Journal Club: Gouldian Finches’ fascinating mating system

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Gouldian Finches’ fascinating mating system by Grrlscientist 29 June 2011

Gouldian Finches occur in two morphs. Red heads or Black heads. Red-headed females prefer red-headed males – and black prefer blacks. In the small populations it is not always possible for the finches to chose their own type. When they cross the results are not good. However, a “hybrid” female will always have less viability than “hybrid” male. The stress of mating the “wrong”kind makes the Gouldian Finch able to regulate the outcome producing more male “hybrid” offspring which has better viability. Read Grrl Scientist fascinating account how the females do this.

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Journal Club: Sparrows show us a new way to have sexes

Thumbnail image for Journal Club: Sparrows show us a new way to have sexes by Grrlscientist 25 May 2011

I’ve always loved white-throated sparrows, Zonotrichia albicollis. Not only are these handsome birds the sister species to my own dissertation bird, the white-crowned sparrow, Z. leucophrys, but I think they are among the most fascinating bird species in the world. In fact, I am so captivated by this species that the chance to pursue my [...]

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