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A timeline for the urbanization of wild birds: The case of the lesser kestrel

The Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) evolved as a separate species in the Old-World kestrel radiation starting in the late Miocene. Given that the first cities were erected in the Holocene, this urban colonial raptor has only become a major town dweller recently in its evolutionary history. Today, more than 95% of lesser kestrel colonies in Spain and other Mediterranean countries are on buildings, and the remaining few are on rocky outcrops, that may have been the original nesting substrate for this cavity-nesting bird. Lesser kestrel fossils are well represented in cave sites, and their paleontological distribution, spanning from the Early Paleolithic to the Epipaleolithic, agrees well with its current breeding distribution. According to classical sources, such as the works of Columella and Pliny the Elder, and the presence of a skeletal remain in a Roman villa near Madrid, lesser kestrels may have nested in buildings and in urban settings for at least 2000e2500 years. However, there are no surviving colonies in structures older than 1400 years in Andalusia, nor in Spain. For a sample of 349 colonies on ancient buildings, a majority of the structures had been erected between the 15th and 17th centuries, this putting a time limit of about 300-600 years to the existence of those seemingly immemorial colonies. For specific towns and buildings, written references for the presence of lesser kestrel colonies do not go back more than two centuries. In fact, the Cathedral of Sevilla may be the structure with the longest continuous occupation by lesser kestrels recorded up to present time, from 1834 to 2020. Lesser kestrels were possibly too common in human settlements in the past as to be noted as special. This may explain the scarcity of references to the species until the 19th century. In any case, the same lack of information affects the other major Eurasian urban birds, as no timeline exist for the urbanization process of any other bird species. Here authors propose that lesser kestrels became urban breeders when both adequate cavities in buildings and cereal fields, where they capture their invertebrate prey, became available in their breeding range, several millennia ago. However, urban colonies, in contrast with the ones on stable geological substrates, have been forced to move from building to building when older ones became ruinous or were rebuilt, but new structures with suitable cavities became available throughout History. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Negro et al (2020) A timeline for the urbanization of wild birds: The case of the lesser kestrel. Quaternary Sci Rev https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106638


https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379120306004?via%3Dihub
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Spatiotemporal dynamics of genetic variation in the Iberian lynx along its path to extinction reconstructed with ancient DNA

Spatiotemporal dynamics of genetic variation in the Iberian lynx along its path to extinction reconstructed with ancient DNA

There is the tendency to assume that endangered species have been both genetically and demographically healthier in the past, so that any genetic erosion observed today was caused by their recent decline. The Iberian lynx suffered a dramatic and continuous decline during the 20th century, and now shows extremely low genome- and species-wide genetic diversity among other signs of genomic erosion. Ancient (N?=?10), historical (N?=?245), and contemporary (N?=?172) samples with microsatellite and mitogenome data were analyzed to reconstruct the species' demography and investigate patterns of genetic variation across space and time. Iberian lynx populations transitioned from low but significantly higher genetic diversity than today and shallow geographical differentiation millennia ago, through a structured metapopulation with varying levels of diversity during the last centuries, to two extremely genetically depauperate and differentiated remnant populations by 2002. The historical subpopulations show varying extents of genetic drift in relation to their recent size and time in isolation, but these do not predict whether the populations persisted or went finally extinct. In conclusion, current genetic patterns were mainly shaped by genetic drift, supporting the current admixture of the two genetic pools and calling for a comprehensive genetic management of the ongoing conservation program. This study illustrates how a retrospective analysis of demographic and genetic patterns of endangered species can shed light onto their evolutionary history and this, in turn, can inform conservation actions. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Casas-Marce et al (2017) Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Genetic Variation in the Iberian Lynx along Its Path to Extinction Reconstructed with Ancient DNA. Mol Biol Evol https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msx222


https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/doi/10.1093/molbev/msx222/4093877/Spatiotemporal-Dynamics-of-Genetic-Variation-in