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

s 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."


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

    Page: 1 2

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