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Saving the parrots: Texas A&M team sequences genome of endangered macaw birds
Date:5/13/2013

ng of its type because Texas A&M researchers have been studying the bird for many years. Working primarily at the Tambopata Research Center in Peru, Texas A&M bird experts have been investigating macaw diseases, behavior and genetics.

"We now have the ability to initiate large-scale, genome-wide approaches for population and phylogeography studies," explains Seabury, who is a collaborator of Donald Brightsmith, director of the Tambopata Macaw Research Project in Peru (http://www.macawproject.org/).

Seabury and Brightsmith add that the array of research possibilities regarding the Scarlet Macaw has now been significantly broadened by this research initiative.

Macaws are found in tropical Central and South America, from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. Trapping of the birds for the pet trade, plus loss of habitat due to deforestation in their native lands, has severely decreased their numbers since the 1960s.

There are 23 species of macaws, and some of these have already become extinct while others are endangered.

Macaws can live 50 to 75 years and often outlive their owners.

"They are considered to be among the most intelligent of all birds and also one of the most affectionate it is believed they are sensitive to human emotions," explains Tizard.

"Possessing stunning feathers that are brightly colored, some macaws have a wingspan approaching four feet. They also usually mate for life and can fly as fast as 35 miles per hour."


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Contact: Keith Randall
keith-randall@tamu.edu
979-845-4644
Texas A&M University
Source:Eurekalert

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