Lecture 11- Introduction to Birds Flashcards Preview

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How old were the fossil feathers discovered in Koonwarra, Vic?



How old were the penguins & dromornithid tracks?

30 MYA
-first recognizable fossils in Australia


How old were the extensive fossils of wetland birds in Central Australia?

-20 MYA
-also dicovered rare pigeons, eagles, rails, megapode & passerines


What was the Dromornis stironi aka Giant Demon Duck of Doom?

-'Mihirung paringmal’ (giant bird)
• central Australia - 15 mya
• Flightless, weight 500+ kg, 3m tall
• related to geese
-not clear what he ate, probably not carnivorous


How many species of birds are there in Australia and what is their size range?

-range from 8g Weebill to 45kg Emu


What are the four broad categories of birds in Australia?

1. Long-established non-passerines of Gondwanan origin (emus, cassowaries, parrots)

2. Australasian passerines descended from Corvid family (fairy-wrens, magpies, honeyeaters)

3. Recent colonists from Eurasia (swallows, larks, cisticolas, some raptors)

4. Introduced species (starling, blackbird, Indian mynah)


What evolution is in play in the similarity of Australian birds to the Northern hemisphere?

-• however, these examples illustrate convergent evolution, not relatedness • most Aust spp. are corvids,descended from ancestors of the crow family


What does corvid mean?

-descended from the ancestors of the crow family


What is convergent evolution?

-Evolution of similar features in unrelated species
-• DNA studies allow origin and evolution to be unravelled
• prove that Aust birds not derived from northern hemisphere stock - more closely related to each other than to N.H. look-alikes


What are the four mating strategies of birds?

• monogamy (M+F)
• polyandry (FMMM) =more males
• polygamy (MFFF) =more females
• {promiscuity (FFMM)?}=lot of males with lot of females


What are the five parental care types in birds?

• biparental = both parents stay

• paternal or maternal=only one parent stays

• none

• mound-builders= build mounts of rotting vegetation that warms the eggs

• cooperative= in groups


What are the surveying techniques for birds?

-census, monitoring
-capture and ringing
-DNA studies


What is the Atlas of Australian birds project?

Aim: - collect info on distribution and abundance of Australian birds - involve community
-commenced in 1998
-voluntary based
-Some conclusions:
- some supposedly migratory species are not - winter movement of birds from SW & Tasmania to NT


What is the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme?

-commenced 1953
-• Coordinates all banding – 600 banders, 80-100k birds/yr – central database – train & license banders
• Banding permits – A class project leader – R class experienced bander – C class trainee


What do we learn from capture and ringing of birds?

- lifespan, movements, observations of behaviour
-international movements


How does life span of birds vary?

-a lot
-1-48 years


What are the Wader birds an their characteristics?

-Wader birds(the ones near water) - migrating species (~3 million individuals)
-March - gather on Australian shores, then fly north
-10-15,000 kilometers, lose 50% body mass


What do the studies using colour-rings tell us about birds?

• dispersal • pair formation • breeding success • interactions
-can tell individuals apart even from a distance do not need to disrupt them as with normal banding to read the number


What is the myswan.org?

-example of citizen science
-people report sightings of swans


What do the DNA studies tell us about birds?

• DNA fingerprinting - mating systems
• Molecular sexing of monomorphic species
- captive management - studies of sex ratios


How many taxa of birds are extinct and how many are threatened and why?

24 taxa extinct, 127 taxa threatened
– large birds (>500g) more likely to be threatened than secure
- smaller birds more likely to be secure than threatened


Where do lot of the threatened taxa nest?

26% of threatened taxa nest in hollows – large owls & parrots in particular
- 23.3% are ground-nesting
- 50 of 133 island taxa are extinct/threatened


What are the threatening processes for birds?

• clearance for agriculture
• grazing
• altered fire regimes
• predation
• direct exploitation
- hunting
- bird trade