Navigation Links
African bird discovery proves there is something new under the sun
Date:3/16/2010

COLLEGE STATION "Four and 20 black birds baked in a pie" but wait, one has blue-gray eyes.

That discovery, backed by DNA analysis, means scientists now know there is one more species of black shrike in the Albertine Rift of Africa than was previously thought. And if Dr. Gary Voelker has his way, he'll soon be studying the bird's habits to determine its susceptibility to the deforestation now occurring across its native habitat.

The bird Laniarius willardi, is a newly described species of boubou shrike (Malaconotidae) whose single distinctive trait is its blue-gray eyes. The paper describing the new species will appear in the July issue of the international ornithological journal The Auk.

"This bird has been around for probably at least a couple million years; it's old, but it's new to science at least in the DNA age," said Voelker, assistant professor of wildlife and fisheries and curator of birds with Texas AgriLife Research at College Station.

"Clearly, it was noticed before, because as we started to look at comparative material from other natural history collections, we saw that several specimens collected in 1910 were noted to have had gray eyes," he said. "But it apparently never occurred to those collectors that their find was potentially something different than other black shrikes that might have been collected in the same basic region."

The same fate might have befallen more recent collections had it not been for conversations Voelker had with Tom Gnoske from the Field Museum in Chicago while in Malawi, and later with Dr. Ben Marks, then a doctoral student at Louisiana State University and now curator of birds and mammals for the Texas Cooperative Wildlife Collections at Texas A&M University.

"The DNA work that shows this to be a new species is recent, though the actual birds sampled were collected in 1997 by Gnoske and Marks on a research expedition for the Field Museum of Natural History," Voelker said. "It was basically conversations between Ben, Tom and myself a few years ago, during which they mentioned the eye color difference of this shrike which finally triggered the find."

Voelker said such discoveries are very rare in Africa. He said most of today's new bird species discoveries are made in South America. He attributes the African discovery in large part to the lack of DNA work in the tropical rainforest area of Central Africa where the bird was found.

"Another significant aspect of this particular species, at least from what we can tell from the data we've gathered, is that it occurs in a narrow elevational band between 1,200 and 2,000 meters," he said. "Those birds collected in 1910 were taken from sites that are now likely completely deforested to make way for tea plantations which grow successfully to about 2,000 meters elevation. Above that level, Laniarius willardi gets replaced by another shrike species that looks exactly like it except for the eye-color difference."

Voelker said knowing the environmental niche a particular species inhabits is important to conservationists for tracking a serious loss of its native habitat which could also impact other species.

"The discovery of this new species clearly illustrates that scientific collecting still has an important role to play in efforts to document and understand biodiversity in Africa and other understudied areas," he said. "These and future results from our ongoing work in various parts of Africa should have an impact on conservation strategies now and in the future."


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Gary Voelker
gvoelker@tamu.edu
979-845-5288
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. LSUHSC researcher finds first inherited prostate cancer genetic mutation in African-American men
2. UAB study shows African-Americans have highest stroke rate, southerners more likely to die
3. For African violets, hands off means healthier
4. Despite risk, older African-Americans more likely than others to avoid flu vaccine
5. East African cichlid fish offer new understanding of genetic basis of sex determination
6. Google Earth aids discovery of early African mammal fossils
7. Going bananas for sustainable research -- scientists create fuel from African crop waste
8. Difference in fat storage may explain lower rate of liver disease in African-Americans
9. Cleaning the atmosphere of carbon: African forests out of balance
10. Ancestral genome of present-day African great apes & humans had burst of DNA sequence duplication
11. African-Americans aware and accepting, but often do not receive, the HPV vaccine
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/9/2016)... Finland , June 9, 2016 ... National Police deploy Teleste,s video security solution to ensure the ... France during the major tournament ... data communications systems and services, announced today that its video ... Prefecture to back up public safety across the ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... , June 2, 2016 ... Manned Platforms, Unmanned Systems, Physical Infrastructure, Support & Other ... provider visiongain offers comprehensive analysis of the ... this market will generate revenues of $17.98 billion in ... acquired DVTEL Inc, a leader in software and hardware ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... WearablesResearch.com , a brand of Troubadour Research & ... Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. A particular ... a program where they would receive discounts for sharing ... "We were surprised to see that so many ... CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there are segments ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software ... State Crime Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , ... Tremblay, President and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today ... trials of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The ... ascending dose studies designed to assess the safety, ... injection in healthy adult volunteers. Forty ... a single dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 http://doi.org/10.17925/OHR.2016.12.01.22 Published ... the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, Andrew D ... cost of cancer care is placing an increasing ... of expensive biologic therapies. With the patents on ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ClinCapture, the ... Convention Center and will showcase its product’s latest features from June 26 to ... a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud during the conference. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: