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'Time-sharing' tropical birds key to evolutionary mystery
Date:11/13/2007

ing in certain types of plants, insects and fish has led to a number of scientific explanations, such as salmon spawning in the same location at different times of year. Until now, however, there have only been two documented cases that such a pattern might occur in birds, and no clear evidence as to how it happens in any warm-blooded creature.

Using DNA samples retrieved from birds breeding in the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde and the Galapagos, the researchers determined that petrels breeding in different seasons but from the same burrows did indeed differ genetically. They also learned that the seasonal species had not bred with each other for periods ranging from around 1,000 to 180,000 years, providing a series of time shots of divergence, Dr. Friesen explains.

This is important for us to know, not just as an explanation for how new species can arise, but also because biodiversity is part of a healthy ecosystem and each bird species is part of our natural heritage, she says, noting that the European Union is now elevating the conservation status of band-rumped storm petrels.

Its also exciting to be able to verify Darwins original theory! Dr. Friesen adds.


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Contact: Nancy Dorrance
nancy.dorrance@queensu.ca
613-533-2869
Queen's University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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