By Stephen Beech via SWNS
Testing birds to find out which are the brainiest could play a key role in saving critically endangered species, according to new research.
Scientists analyzed how well different captive Bali myna birds - of which there are fewer than 50 remaining in the wild - tackled problem-solving tasks and responded to the presence of new objects and types of food.
The research team believes the findings can support new conservation strategies - such as the pre-release training of birds and identifying specific birds for release.
Study leader Dr. Rachael Miller, of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), alongside colleagues at Cambridge University and the National University of Singapore, examined levels of 'neophobia' - the fear of new things - in 22 captive Bali myna birds.
They measured how well individual birds responded to the presence of new objects and types of food, in addition to how well they tackled simple problem-solving tasks.
The researchers believe that gathering such types of behavioral data can aid in new conservation strategies.
Dr. Miller explained that behavioral flexibility is crucial for an individual’s adaptability and survival, and so pre-release training and identifying specific birds for release could help with the successful reintroduction of endangered species, such as the Bali myna, into the wild.
The study was conducted over a six-week period at three UK zoological collections – Waddesdon Manor, Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Gardens, and Birdworld.
The researchers found overall that birds took longer to touch familiar food when a novel item was present.
Dr. Miller said: "Age was a key factor in the behavior displayed, with adult birds proving to be more neophobic than juveniles."
The researchers also discovered that the birds that quickly touched familiar food that was placed beside a new object were also the quickest to solve problem-solving tasks.
The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, is part of a larger project led by Dr. Miller, a lecturer in animal behavior at ARU, aiming to combine avian cognition and behavior research with conservation, to help threatened species.
Dr. Miller said: “Neophobia can be useful in that it can help birds avoid unfamiliar dangers, but it can also impact their adaptation to new environments, such as through an increased reluctance to approach new foods.
“An understanding of behavioral flexibility, specifically how species and individuals within that species respond to novelty and approach new problems, is vital for conservation, particularly as the world is becoming increasingly urbanized.
"Many species need to adapt to human-generated environmental changes and how an animal responds to novelty can predict post-release outcomes during reintroductions.
“We selected the Bali myna for this study specifically because they are on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 50 adults in the wild in Indonesia, but there is a captive breeding program of almost 1,000 birds in zoos around the world.
“As part of active conservation of the Bali myna, there is a need to continually release birds to try to boost the small, wild population.
"Now we have data on the behavioral flexibility of these birds, this can help to inform which birds may be best suited for reintroduction.
"Our study has already identified that releasing juvenile Bali myna may potentially be more successful than releasing adult birds, at least in terms of adaptability to new environments."
Dr. Miller added: “Our data can also help with developing training before release, where captive birds may learn to increase fear responses to traps or people if they were to be introduced in areas where poaching takes place, or to decrease neophobia by exposure to unfamiliar safe food sources in areas with low resources.
"We believe the overall project findings will be able to help not just the Bali myna, but hopefully many other endangered species.”
Stories and infographics by ‘Talker Research’ are available to download & ready to use. Stories and videos by ‘Talker News’ are managed by SWNS. To license content for editorial or commercial use and to see the full scope of SWNS content, please email email@example.com or submit an inquiry via our contact form.
Encuesta revela las mejores cosas de comprar en una pequeña empresa
La persona promedio comprar en una pequeña empresa 213 veces durante el año. Una encuesta reciente de 2,000 adultos reveló...
Study: Kids’ mental health and self-esteem can plummet starting at this age
The phenomenon applies to youngsters regardless of economic and family circumstances.
Tea with breakfast and wine with dinner could reduce risk of dementia
The number of dementia cases worldwide is expected to tripled to more than 150 million by 2050.
Study: COVID-19 vaccine provides substantial protection against reinfection
While many people have developed long-lasting natural immunity after contracting the virus, the new research shows that the COVID-19 vaccine...
Man born with half a body refuses to let it hold him back
"My independence is the thing I’m most grateful for."
- Shopping4 days ago
Why a lot of Americans plan to shop in person for Black Friday this year
- Holidays4 days ago
Healthy eating canceled for the rest of the year
- Small Biz5 days ago
Survey says these are the best things about shopping small
- Home6 days ago
Couple fixing house that’s been abandoned since the ’80s
- Sleep6 days ago
Average American loses this much sleep during the holidays
- Outer Space5 days ago
Check out NASA’s Artemis spacecraft’s stunning selfies
- Food & Drink6 days ago
Spicy food lovers more likely to think they’re hot
- Tech5 days ago
This $5.1 million submarine moves faster than a dolphin