Navigation Links
MU researcher works to save one of the world's most endangered birds

COLUMBIA, Mo. The Tuamotu Kingfisher is a multicolored, tropical bird with bright blue feathers, a dusty orange head, and a bright green back. The entire population of these birds less than 125 lives on one tiny island in the south Pacific, and without serious intervention, they will no longer exist. One University of Missouri researcher is trying to stop the birds' extinction by working with farmers and residents on the island inhabited by the kingfishers.

"If we lose these birds, we lose 50,000 years of uniqueness and evolution," said Dylan Kesler, assistant professor in fisheries and wildlife at the University of Missouri's School of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. "Because it has lived in isolation for a very long time, it's unlike any other bird. There is no other bird like this on the planet."

In new studies published in the journal The Auk (published by the American Ornithologists Union) and the Journal of Wildlife Management, Kesler and his team of researchers have uncovered important information to help ensure the birds' survival and a unique way to attach radio transmitters to the birds to track them.

To survive, the kingfishers need several specific habitat characteristics:

  • Hunting Perches about 5 feet off the ground The birds hunt by "pouncing." They watch their prey and then fall on them from hunting perches about 5 feet high. Without the perches in broadleaf trees at the appropriate height, the birds have no way to hunt.

  • Exposed ground the birds' food consists mainly of lizards, which are easier to spot where the ground is clear of vegetation. When coconut farmers conduct intermediate burns on their land which are hot enough to kill brush, but do not lead to widespread fires or kill the lizards it exposes more ground and the birds can see the lizards.

  • Dead trees for nesting the birds create nests by flying into dead trees and hollowing cavities. Live trees are too hard and many farmers cut down their dead coconut trees. By encouraging farmers to leave some dead trees, the birds will continue to be able to build nests.

  • Lessoning the impact of predators cats and rats, which were introduced to the island by humans, now hunt the Tuamotu Kingfisher. By wrapping metal bands around the trees, the predators are less likely to get into the nests, but Kesler is still searching for other solutions that might alleviate the pressure on the birds.

In a separate study, Kesler also developed a "weak-link" radio harness for the birds to wear. In previous studies with different birds, scientists have reported unintentional harm to the birds after attaching radio transmitters. That harm included scratching the birds, making the birds act peculiarly and introducing infections. Using this new harness, Kesler was able to track the birds during the study, and the harness was shed within two months.

"Unfortunately, even with all our work to date, the population is still crashing," Kesler said. "We're seeing some turnover, but each year when we return, there are more empty territories and the population decreases. At this rate, these birds will be gone within our lifetime."


Contact: Christian Basi
University of Missouri-Columbia

Related biology news :

1. Wistar Institute researcher receives New Innovator award from NIH
2. NC State researchers get to root of parasite genome
3. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
4. Researchers find an essential gene for forming ears of corn
5. Researchers note differences between people and animals on calorie restriction
6. Researcher working on destruction of chemical weapons
7. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
8. Researchers discover that growing up too fast may mean dying young in honey bees
9. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
10. UI researchers find potentially toxic substance present in Chicago air
11. Researchers develop new self-training gene prediction program for fungi
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
MU researcher works to save one of the world's most endangered birds
(Date:11/19/2015)... , Nov. 19, 2015  Although some 350 ... is dominated by a few companies, according to Kalorama ... own 51% of the market share of the 6.1 ... The World Market for Molecular Diagnostic s . ... "The market is still controlled by one company and ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... 2015  Vigilant Solutions announces today that Mr. ... Directors. --> --> ... the partnership at TPG Capital, one of the largest ... Billion in revenue.  He founded and led TPG,s Operating ... companies, from 1997 to 2013.  In his first role, ...
(Date:11/12/2015)...   Growing need for low-cost, easy to ... paving the way for use of biochemical sensors ... in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and defense applications. ... medical applications, however, their adoption is increasing in ... emphasis on improving product quality and growing need ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... President and CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting ... New York . ... website approximately 5 minutes prior to the presentation to ... the presentation will be available on the website approximately ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... uBiome, were featured on AngelList early in their initial angel funding process. Now, ... syndicate for individuals looking to make early stage investments in the microbiome space. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") ... for the quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, ... and presented under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... said Andrew Rae , President & CEO ... not only value enriching for this clinical program, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... India , November 24, 2015 ... a new market research report "Oligonucleotide Synthesis Market by ... Application (PCR, Gene Synthesis, Diagnostic, DNA, RNAi), End-User (Research, ... 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to ... Million in 2015, at a CAGR of 10.1% during ...
Breaking Biology Technology: