Ingenuity did not save the birds from invasive species and human

Ingenuity — the ability to master new strategies, reduces the risk of extinction in birds, but this applies only to those species, the number of individuals who have reduced due to the destruction of their habitats. Protection from invasive species and excessive hunting of behavioral plasticity does not. This is the conclusion reached by the authors of the article reported in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Now one of the main reasons for the decline of animal numbers the decrease in the area suitable for them habitats. In theory, high intelligence contributes to the survival of the organism as it allows to deal with this is to predict changes in the environment and respond quickly to them. But for some reason many objectively intelligent animals — including apes, cetaceans, and parrots are on the verge of extinction. Therefore, there is no doubt that cognitive ability to reliably determine how species cope with changing environmental conditions.

To check the level of intelligence associated with the ability to resist extinction, tried scientists from Spain, Canada and Sweden, led by Simon Docetism (Simon Ducatez) from McGill University. They are considered one major group of vertebrates — birds. This took into account the results of the 3800 bird sightings in their natural habitat (not in laboratories and in zoos), when they showed behavioral flexibility included in the diet of new foods or using new strategies for getting usual food. For this, the researchers collected data from 204 ornithological scientific journals, published in the period from 1960 to 2018.

For each case a new eating behavior and the inclusion of unusual foods in the diet, scientists have determined which species of bird it showed. For example, great white herons in Brazil caught eating sparrows and cormorants in New Zealand learned how to hunt, using the streams created by barge. Any kind, which found at least one case of unusual behavior, called creative (innovative). Those birds whose habitats overlap with the ranges of ingenious, but not seen in new forms of behavior, attributed to the uninventive.

The researchers also evaluated the frequency of manifestations of creativity in these species (sometimes one and the same species showed several new forms of behavior). They determine what the security status is now reviewed each of them 10391 species of birds and what happens to its size — it grows, decreases, or remains more or less unchanged. Taken into account and the average size of members of different species, and whether they live on Islands or on the continents (usually, island animals are more vulnerable to extinctions), the total breadth of distribution and other factors.

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