Navigation Links
'Early bird' project really gets the worm
Date:6/26/2008

BATON ROUGE Scientists from the LSU Museum of Natural Science, or MNS, recently participated in a project joining together the most prominent ornithological research programs in the world. This study the largest study of bird genetics ever completed has not only shaken up the avian evolutionary tree, but completely redrawn it. The results of this massive research project, which relied heavily upon the LSU MNS' genetic resources collection, will be published in Science on June 27.

The results of the study are so broad that the scientific names of dozens of birds will have to be changed, and biology textbooks and birdwatchers' field guides will have to be revised.

LSU participants in the study include: Fred Sheldon, director of the LSU MNS; Ben Marks, recent graduate of LSU's biological sciences doctoral program; and Chris Witt, former LSU graduate student and current assistant professor in the Department of Biology and Museum of Southwestern Biology at the University of New Mexico.

For more than five years, the Early Bird Project, funded by the National Science Foundation's "Assembling the Tree-of-Life" research program, has been collecting DNA sequence data from all major living groups of birds.

"One thing that makes this project unique is its breadth; both in its taxonomic scope and in terms of the amount and type of data we collected," said Marks.

Thus far, scientists have built and analyzed a dataset of more than 32 kilobases of nuclear DNA sequences from 19 different locations on the DNA of each of 169 bird species.

"This paper makes tremendous strides toward determining the evolutionary relationships of the major branches in the bird family tree," said Witt. "It uses DNA sequences to infer key events in the diversification of birds that happened tens of millions of years ago."

For example, we now know that:

  • Birds adapted to the diverse environments several distinct times because many birds that now live on water (such as flamingos, tropicbirds and grebes) did not evolve from a different waterbird group, and many birds that now live on land (such as turacos, doves, sandgrouse and cuckoos) did not evolve from a different landbird group.

  • Similarly, distinctive lifestyles (such as nocturnal, raptorial and pelagic, i.e., living on the ocean or open seas) evolved several times. For example, contrary to conventional thinking, colorful, daytime hummingbirds evolved from drab nocturnal nightjars; falcons are not closely related to hawks and eagles; and tropicbirds (white, swift-flying ocean birds) are not closely related to pelicans and other waterbirds.

  • Shorebirds are not a basal evolutionary group, which refutes the widely held view that shorebirds gave rise to all modern birds.

The other co-authors of this study include scientists from the Field Museum in Chicago; the University of Florida; University of California, Berkeley; Smithsonian Institution; Stellenbosch University (South Africa); University of Maryland; Wayne State University; and the University of New Mexico. More than half of the people who worked on or trained in this project were women.

There are an estimated 82 million birdwatchers in the United States alone, making it the country's second most popular hobby, surpassed only by gardening. Therefore, interest in the results of the Early Bird research project will be far reaching.

Both Marks and Witt agree that being a graduate student at LSU afforded them a special opportunity to be involved in cutting-edge research.

"Being associated with LSU is the gold standard in ornithology," said Witt. "The LSU affiliation provides a huge boost to the career prospects of alumni like me."


'/>"/>

Contact: Ashley Berthelot
aberth4@lsu.edu
225-578-3870
Louisiana State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. USGS to help Chile develop volcano early warning system
2. Addicted cells provide early cancer diagnosis
3. Early treatment of stomach infection may prevent cancer
4. Early parents didnt stand for weighty kids
5. New chemotherapy combo produces side effects, but no extra efficacy, in early breast cancer patients
6. Early exposure to common weed killer impairs amphibian development
7. Texas A&M scientists say early Americans arrived earlier
8. UDs Bobev receives NSF Early Career Award for research on novel compounds of rare Earth metals
9. Fluorescent cells give early warning for eye disease
10. Early environment may be key to determining bird migration location
11. Bottom trawling impacts, clearly visible from space
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/26/2016)... DUBLIN , April 27, 2016 ... of the  "Global Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report ... ) , The analysts forecast ... a CAGR of 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  ... a number of sectors such as the healthcare, ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... -- A new partnership announced today will help life ... a fraction of the time it takes today, ... insurance policies to consumers without requiring inconvenient and ... rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and HIV) and higi,s ... pulse, BMI, and activity data) available at local ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... , April 14, 2016 ... and Malware Detection, today announced the appointment of ... the new role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes ... the heels of the deployment of its platform at ... behavioral biometric technology, which discerns unique cognitive and physiological ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... San Diego, Calif. (PRWEB) , ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... San Diego area and has consistently been rated one of its top attractions. ... over the globe to participate in a unique and intimate team-building experience. , Each ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... The ... fracture-specific plating options designed to address fractures of the distal tibia and fibula. ... The Acumed Ankle Plating System 3 is composed of seven plate families that ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... The ... by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) outlining a ... clinically relevant data were available when and where it was needed. The organization ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... WEDI, the nation’s leading authority on the use of health ... has been named by the WEDI Board of Directors as WEDI’s president and CEO. ... with more than 35 years of experience in healthcare, association management and organizational leadership, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: