Navigation Links
International research group documents unique songbird diversity of the Eastern Himalayas
Date:5/28/2014

The Eastern Himalayas are home to more than 360 different songbird species, most of which are to be found nowhere else on the planet. This makes the region extending from eastern Nepal to the borderlands of China, India, and Myanmar unique and one of the most important hot spots for biological diversity in the western hemisphere. A recent research paper describes how this impressive bird community came about millions of years ago, emphasizing both the uniqueness and biological significance of this remote area. "As the Himalayan mountain range was formed, a profusion of completely different ecological niches were created," explains Professor Jochen Martens of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). "A wide variety of different songbird species were able to colonize these niches. The majority of these species did not evolve there but emigrated from the eastern and south-eastern regions of the Himalayas." Martens has been conducting research in the Himalayas for 45 years and is the co-author of the article "Niche filling slows the diversification of Himalayan songbirds" published in the eminent scientific journal NATURE.

The team of researchers from India, the US, Germany, and Sweden was able to sample and analyze the DNA of all songbirds found in the Himalayas. Team members such as Martens compiled some of the genetic material over the course of decades; some was found in old collections in European and North American museums or was taken from individual feathers collected by field workers. The scientists were surprised at the relatively large differences in the genetic makeup even between species which are apparently closely related and that often have an extremely similar appearance. On average, each bird species separated from their closest relative six to seven million years ago. The time is roughly equivalent to the period separating human beings from chimpanzees, the animal most closely related to humans.

Over the past million years, new bird species have evolved such as those found in Southeast Asia, China, and Siberia. However, almost none of these have emigrated to the Eastern Himalayas. The team of researchers headed by Professor Trevor Price of the University of Chicago and Dhananjai Mohan of the Indian Forest Service believe that emigration has not taken place because of the difficulty of integration into the already tightly packed bird communities of the Eastern Himalayas.

"The capacity for new species to evolve appears to depend to a large extent on whether enough room for colonization is available," explains Martens. The Eastern Himalayas offered unique conditions for the development of an enormous diversity of songbird species. The research team concluded that the habitats have since been saturated so that barely any new niches were available for new species.

The findings from the DNA analyses essentially confirm those made by Martens after his many years spent examining bird songs. The various types of song show how acoustic properties, usually in the form of dialects, contribute to species evolution and how the individual species are distributed in an area with extreme elevation stratification, such as the Himalayas. Over the years, Martens has recorded more than 10,000 individual sounds from numerous species for his research, which he compiled in Europe and many parts of Asia.

Martens and his international research colleagues agree that the Eastern Himalayas on the borderlands of India, China, and Myanmar is an area of unique genetic diversity with regard to birds. They hope that their findings on songbirds will help stimulate research into other groups of animals, such as reptiles and mammals, in this impressive location. "It will only be possible to protect this natural heritage once it has been researched as thoroughly as possible," adds Martens.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Jochen Martens
martens@uni-mainz.de
49-613-139-22675
Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Forum highlights future of research aboard the International Space Station
2. Leading cfaed scientists organize international workshop about DNA-based microchips
3. The International Society for Stem Cell Research 12th Annual Meeting, June 18-21, 2014
4. Lawrence Krauss is honored at international festival of science documentary films
5. WPIs Diana Lados honored by SAE International and Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society
6. International research group recognizes UTMB experts
7. MARC travel awards for the CYTO 2014/International Society for Advancement of Cytometry Meeting
8. The 2nd International Symposium on Transformative Bio-Molecules 2014
9. International consortium discovers 2 genes that modulate risk of breast and ovarian cancer
10. New international partnership aims to unlock wheats potential
11. Wheat stem sawfly devastations lead to another international conference at Montana State University
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/9/2016)... 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud to announce ... for employers to make sure the right employees are actually signing in, and to ... ... ... ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... NEW YORK , June 2, 2016   The ... (Weather), is announcing Watson Ads, an industry-first capability in which ... advertising, by being able to ask questions via voice or ... Marketers have long ... with the consumer, that can be personal, relevant and valuable; ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... 2016   EyeLock LLC , a market leader ... of an IoT Center of Excellence in ... development of embedded iris biometric applications. EyeLock,s ... and security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it the ... DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver a ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, today announced ... has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I am thrilled ... COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific integrator, Hays ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... BEACH, Calif. , June 23, 2016  Blueprint ... new biological discoveries to the medical community, has closed ... co-founder Matthew Nunez . "We have ... us with the capital we need to meet our ... will essentially provide us the runway to complete validation ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... software, is exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase its product’s ... conference. ClinCapture will also be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... the QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate ... The shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to ... key obstacle for many early stage organizations - access ... the sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: