Ecology

Bird diversity at risk from farming

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
513,
Page:
282
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/513282a
Published online

Birds that have the longest evolutionary history are also the most threatened by agriculture.

Luke Frishkoff at Stanford University in California, Daniel Karp at the University of California, Berkeley, and their team studied 12 years of bird survey data, covering nearly 500 species from three types of land use in Costa Rica: forests, diversified agriculture and intensive farming of just a few crop species. They found that on farmland, evolutionarily distinct birds, which are related to few other living species — such as the rufous-tailed jacamar (Galbula ruficauda; pictured) — went extinct locally at higher rates than those that had evolved more recently.

Daniel Karp

However, less-intensive agriculture fostered greater levels of phylogenetic diversity than intensive farming, so the authors suggest that this type of agriculture could help to conserve some bird evolutionary history.

Science 345, 13431346 (2014)

Additional data