INTERNATIONAL — An international team of scientists finds that form follows function and defines the roles birds play in ecosystems worldwide, such as pollinating plants, dispersing seeds, or controlling pests. The researchers say their study provides the clearest picture yet of the widespread influence of convergent evolution across an entire class of animals at a global scale.
The research was led by Imperial College London and University College London, and includes the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. It was published recently in Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Study and Findings
The team visited museums around the world to find specimens of nearly 10,000 bird species.
“We used 9 measurements, including wing, beak, tail, and leg measurements of over 99 percent of the world’s birds to identify striking examples of convergent evolution,” says scientist Eliot Miller at the Cornell Lab, who helped design the study. “For example, toucans and hornbills are found in completely different parts of the world but they have evolved remarkably similar features. We determined from multiple instances like this that similar habitats and ecological function…
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