U.S Birds Have Different Species Richness Patterns in the West and East
The patterns of functional diversity in the West, where species and functional richness are both highest during the breeding season, are completely at odds with those in the East, where functional diversity is lowest when species richness is high, according to researchers who have created what could be considered a baseline map of annual avian functional and species diversity patterns in the U.S.
U.S. Birds’ Eastern, Western Behavior Patterns Are Polar Opposites
(Photo : SEBASTIEN BERGER/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo : SEBASTIEN BERGER/AFP via Getty Images)
The diversity of birds’ contributions to ecosystems, as measured by indicators of their nutrition, body shape, and foraging strategies, is significantly more difficult to examine than the number of distinct species that exist in a specific area or community in the United States, as per ScienceDaily.
Also, because hundreds of species migrate north for nesting in the summer and south for the winter, it is extremely difficult to predict how the ecosystem functions for birds over long stretches of time.
But two scientists from The Ohio State University have produced what could be considered a baseline map of annual avian functional and species diversity patterns in the U.S., clocking 11,000 code-running hours at the Ohio Supercomputer Center to produce their findings.
The patterns of functional diversity they discovered were astonishing: in the West, where species and functional richness are both at their peak during the breeding season, they are the exact opposite of those observed in the East, where functional diversity is at its lowest when species richness is high.
This pattern in the East is especially perplexing since it indicates that when a large number of migratory species are absent, the overall diversity of birds’ environmental services is at its maximum.
According to lead author Marta Jarzyna, an assistant professor of evolution, ecology, and organismal biology at Ohio State, migrating birds in the East and the West likely provide quite distinct functional contributions to assemblages.
James Stagge, an assistant professor of civil, environmental, and geodetic engineering at Ohio State, and Jarzyna finished the work together.
Stagge is also a core faculty member of the Translational Data Analytics Institute at Ohio State. The study was released in the journal Current Biology on February 22.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s eBird Status and Trends, which offered seasonal abundance estimates for over 800 species, was used by the researchers to give 2019 data.
In addition to measuring species richness, Jarzyna, and Stagge also took into account four factors to derive estimates of functional diversity: bird body mass, diet, which can include nectar and seeds as well as bugs and rodents, foraging niche, and activity time, which can be either during the day or night.
As a hydrologist examining climate data, he was skilled in research methods used to examine seasonal patterns, and the partnership with Stagge was essential to integrate the passage of time, according to Jarzyna.
According to Jarzyna, researchers have long recognized that understanding the functional diversity that birds provide to their communities can reveal considerably more about biodiversity than can a simple count of resident and migratory species.
The Northern Hemisphere summer is the only breeding season that has traditionally been the focus of studies on avian functional variation.
This study is the first to explore the variations between species and their attributes as their abundances fluctuate across the nation throughout the course of a year
The researchers now have a much better understanding of what is happening across the seasons’ thanks to their discovery that functional diversity patterns in the East and West varied so drastically, but many questions remain as to why.
Also Read: Dodo Birds Weren’t as Dumb as You Think, Study Finds
Think Like a Bird
Birds rely heavily on intrinsic behavior, acting instinctively in response to particular visual or aural inputs. Even a lot of their feeding and mating behavior fits stereotypical patterns, as per Britannica.
The rest of the feathers must remain in place so they can serve as insulation, and the wings and tail must remain in flying condition.
As a result, well-developed and frequently used preening, oiling, shaking, and stretching actions are present.
Certain behaviors are common, though not universal, among birds, such as the simultaneous stretching of one wing, one leg, and half of the tail (all on the same side).
Another typical motion is to stretch both wings upward, either folded or spread, as well as to shake the entire body starting at the back.
Related article: Dodo Might Be Resurrected After Scientists Examine Extinct Bird’s Dna For the First Time
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