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Feeding birds 'changes evolution' - Comments

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 1 by rod-the-farmer

Well, of course, if you want to use a European sparrow....

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 15:04:00 UTC | #420207

mixmastergaz's Avatar Comment 2 by mixmastergaz

...if there were two sparrows with a coconut on a piece of string between them...

edit: apologies to anyone who wants to chat seriously about this interesting article (no sarcasm intended)

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 15:30:00 UTC | #420216

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 3 by aquilacane

I don't know... ahh!

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 15:32:00 UTC | #420218

AIFEsteves's Avatar Comment 4 by AIFEsteves

People with bird feeders could start selecting individuals using challenges and/or interaction with food rewards. That way you could influence their evolution.

Maybe that's what ,unkonwingly, the clergy has been doing to humans with charity...

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 15:33:00 UTC | #420219

Graeme's Avatar Comment 5 by Graeme

comments 1 and 2...
shouldn't that be swallow... not sparrow

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 16:12:00 UTC | #420229

zengardener's Avatar Comment 6 by zengardener

There are signs at the lake saying, "don't feed the ducks", but kids love it when a seemingly wild animal takes a french fry from their hand.

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 17:22:00 UTC | #420256

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 7 by hungarianelephant

"At this stage this is reversible," he added. "And it's hard to envision a species change, because if there's another economic crisis and people stop feeding the birds, the whole system might just collapse."

That's certainly the problem that this reporter worries about.

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 17:30:00 UTC | #420261

friendlypig's Avatar Comment 8 by friendlypig

Most of the people around where I live put our food and water in the winter months, and as a result we get around many species of wild birds passing through (40 plus over the year) amongst them are the occasional Blackcap. In spite of the current economic conditions I don't think that would change unless there a complete collapse of the currency.

5. Comment #438704 by Graeme on December 4, 2009 at 4:12 pm
comments 1 and 2...
shouldn't that be swallow... not sparrow

These are similar to a slimmed down sparrow, quite unlike a swallow

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 18:15:00 UTC | #420278

chameleonpete's Avatar Comment 9 by chameleonpete

Hoe do you know so much about swallows? :-)

If man changes the evolutionary path of these birds a little bit, and man is just another species, this is just case of species interaction like many that must have occurred over millions of years. So is this still natural selection? I would say it is.

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 18:40:00 UTC | #420285

Corylus's Avatar Comment 10 by Corylus

And we have produced these initial steps in as little as 50 years.
Couldn't have been much more than this.

Apparently, feeding the birds in your backgarden was illegal in the UK during the second world war. Rationing measures required that you either consumed all your food or gave it to collections for pig swill. Feeding non-domestic animals was therefore a unacceptable indulgence.

Hardship measures can be closer than we think.

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 18:56:00 UTC | #420287

bluebird's Avatar Comment 11 by bluebird

I've been engrossed lately with feeding/reading about local birds; nice change of pace to read this interesting study of a european bird.

"Citizen Science" bird counts are just around the corner!
North America:

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 19:57:00 UTC | #420305

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 12 by Stafford Gordon

The result of global warming perhaps?

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 22:20:00 UTC | #420336

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 13 by Stafford Gordon

Anyone who's read the Extended Phenotype will recognize these phenomena.

However, as a lay person, to do so necessitates crawling over broken glass through the dense but short seminal opus; but, it's worth it!

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 23:51:00 UTC | #420354

Mbee's Avatar Comment 14 by Mbee

What exactly do they mean by: Feeding birds 'changes evolution'

How do you change evolution? Would they have evolved differently if they were not being fed? If so then maybe the title is correct.
If they wouldn't have changed at all if they weren't being fed then they wouldn't have evolved either.

It would be better if they had said:'Feeding birds causes evolutionary change.'

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 01:11:00 UTC | #420367

bluebird's Avatar Comment 15 by bluebird

Dr. Schaefer discussed this on NPR's ScienceFriday:

EDIT: From 'Current Biology', "Contemporary Evolution of Reproductive Isolation & Phenotypic Divergence in Sympatry along a Migratory Divide".
I like the CBC article title, "Feeding birds can affect evolution: study".

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 02:32:00 UTC | #420379

zengardener's Avatar Comment 16 by zengardener

Feeding birds 'changes evolution'

My guess, the original title was,

Feeding birds changes the course of their evolution

Both ink and space are expensive, on the internet?

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 06:20:00 UTC | #420398

JSW's Avatar Comment 17 by JSW

Is this such a bad thing? Modern research suggests that the first wolves were domesticated due to a similar process and humans and dogs have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for thousands of years since then.

All species have an impact on the ecosystem around them and humans are, when it comes down to it, just another species of animal. Our concern should be whether or not this impact is positive or negative, rather than trying to avoid any kind of impact at all.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 13:21:00 UTC | #420442

LarianLeQuella's Avatar Comment 18 by LarianLeQuella

We are probably doing the same to birds here in America. Of course, I think my wife rather enjoys having the visitors come by, being totally dependent on her. It's not like a change is totally bad in all instances, just when human action start getting irresponsible.

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 15:46:00 UTC | #420451

King of NH's Avatar Comment 19 by King of NH

Wait, did that guy say this is reversible? Like hell! Evolution never reverses. If people stop feeding the birds, they will simply die. If they are diverging from their parent species, it will be an extinction event, not a reversal in evolution.

It might be very interesting to study an actual extinction from divergence to end, but that's rather cold hearted (I know, the English ARE cold hearted, but even for them!). I say let the people enjoy the relationship, provided it is beneficial to both.

*side note: We just put up a bird feeder and have a mating pair of Cardinals using it. The male and the new fallen snow is quite a combination of holiday theme. Plus, the house cat is giddy with excitement.

Sun, 06 Dec 2009 00:44:00 UTC | #420551

Gnu Atheist's Avatar Comment 20 by Gnu Atheist

Consider the birds... Have the birds got jobs?

Sun, 06 Dec 2009 12:35:00 UTC | #420636