The state of the union’s birds

A comprehensive analysis of the current condition of birds in the U.S. was released yesterday by The Nature Conservancy, USGS, the Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and many other non-profit groups. Dubbed The State of the Birds, the document reports that of the nation’s approximately 800 bird species, 67 are federally listed as endangered, 184 are of conservation concern and many others are declining due to...

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Climate change may reorganize Western fauna

Bioclimatic models attempt to draw correlations between species distributions and climate patterns.  As ecologists and climatologists hone these models, they become a useful tool for predicting future species distributions based on projected climate patterns. In the March issue of Ecology, Joshua Lawler of the University of Washington and his colleagues undertook a huge task: using a bioclimatic model, they estimated the effects of...

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To fly or not to fly?

Evolution can do funny things. Like producing the amazing feat of flight in a lineage of reptiles, which over time led to an adaptive radiation seldom rivaled in the history of animals. And then producing, in some 30 species of birds, the loss of the adaptation altogether. It would seem a ridiculous thing to do, to give up the power of flight, when you can fly. Certainly, if I could fly, I wouldn’t bother giving it up. That’s Rory...

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