Much of a centuries-old debate over where and how new bird species form has now been resolved.
Much of a centuries-old debate over where and how new bird species form has now been resolved. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have provided evidence that birds in mountainous areas – where the vast majority of the planet’s species live – have left lowland habitats for higher and higher mountain elevations throughout their evolution. Millions of years of climatic fluctuations have contributed to pushing bird species upslope – as is probably happening now.
One of the fundamental questions in biology, and a centuries-old academic debate, is: How do new species form? And, how do species end up on mountain tops several kilometers high? Indeed, 85% of the world's vertebrates – birds included – live in mountainous areas where lowland habitats isolate animal species and populations from one another.
"The discussion about how mountain bird species arise has been ongoing among scientific researchers for many years. Some say – "Obviously, birds can just fly from one mountain to another", while others say – "Well, actually they don't." Scientists have been arguing about this since Darwin and Wallace. But until now, no one had the scientific evidence," explains associate professor Knud Andreas Jønsson of the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen.
Read more at University of Copenhagen - Faculty of Science
Image: Paramythia Montium (Crested Berrypecker) is one of the species investigated in the study. (Credit: Knud Andreas Jønsson)