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Deforestation changing bird wing shapes

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 18, 2010

A recent study indicates that the wing shapes of North American birds are changing in response to deforestation.

He found that over half of the species he examined demonstrated changes over time with boreal birds developing more pointed wings and temperate birds developing rounder wings. These results support the hypothesis that habitat isolation is spurring evolutionary changes in birds.

Boreal forests have suffered severe deforestation over the past century, and so Desrochers had predicted that increased distances between habitat patches would select for more pointed wings in birds. Pointed wings are associated with more energy-efficient sustained flight.

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