To fly or not to fly? Diving birds shun air travel

The ability to fly is one of the most significant adaptations in animal history. Some birds, however, have opted out of flying – evolutionarily speaking. In this installment of Field Talk, we catch up with Dr. Rory Wilson, a professor of aquatic biology at the University of Swansea. His paper in the November issue of Ecological Monographs examines the Galápagos cormorant, an aquatic bird that hunts seafloor prey off the coasts of the islands where it makes its home. Wilson and his colleagues find that the peculiar conditions on and around the islands has led to the loss of flight in these cormorants, a trade-off that gives these birds better diving ability.

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