COLUMBIA, Mo., Aug. 31 (UPI) — “Free as a bird” may not be as free as it sounds, researchers say, as a study suggest what’s on the ground greatly affects where birds fly.
Scientists at the University of Missouri says the findings could be useful to foresters and urban planners alike to improve bird habitats that would perpetuate strong, diverse bird populations, a university release said Tuesday.
Dylan Kesler, assistant professor in fisheries and wildlife at the university’s School of Natural Resources, found that non-migrating resident birds tend to travel over forest “corridors,” areas protected by trees and used by wildlife to travel.
Birds choose to travel over woodlands because they can make an easier escape from predators as well as find food, he says.
“Movement of individuals influences nearly every aspect of biology, from the existence of a single population to interactions within and among species,” Kesler said.
“Movement determines where individual birds procreate. How they spread across the landscape affects who meets whom, which in turn dictates how genes are spread.”
Man-made features such as roads, as well as gaps in forests from agriculture or rivers, can restrict birds to certain areas, he says.
When forests are removed, bird populations become isolated and disconnected, which can lead to inbreeding and weaker, more disease-prone birds, Kesler says.
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