Dec
04
2009

Birdfeeders and Evolution of Birds

blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla

blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla

NPR’s Science Friday had a great interview with evolutionary biologist, Martin Schaefer (Associate Professor, University of Freiburg, Germany) about his current research in bird evolution. The radio segment was pitched perfectly for AP Biology — a re-cap of Darwin’s finches, genetic variation in the population, natural selection, geographic and reproductive isolation, and more.

Here’s the summary from the Science Friday Web site:

“What does it take to change a species? New research details how people putting out birdfeeders may have influenced the evolution of a species of songbirds. Writing in the journal Current Biology, researchers describe how one species of European songbird, the blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), has been split into two reproductively isolated groups in fewer than 30 generations. One group migrates to the southwest, the other to the northwest, overwintering in either Spain or the United Kingdom. The researchers found that the northwestern-migrating birds, which take advantage of birdfeeders in the UK, had developed rounder wings and longer, narrower bills than the southwestern birds.”

Listen here to find out more.

Kim Foglia

Kim Foglia

Written by kfoglia in: Biology Teaching |