David M. Larson
Great Tit. Photograph by Heather Smithers (CC-BY-SA 2.0).
We all know about anthropogenic changes in avian distribution and diversity—think loss of habitat, introduced species, and extinction, for example. Increased food supplies due to birdfeeders and introduction of non-native plants may have helped fuel range expansion in some species. Anthropogenic climate change threatens many species that are unable to adapt quickly enough. But there are more subtle changes out there, too.
Bosse, et al., 2017, studied morphological and genetic changes in Great Tits (Parus major) that ultimately proved to result from human intervention in the form of birdfeeding. In the United Kingdom (UK), birdfeeders are widely employed in gardens, as opposed to in the Netherlands where they are much less common. The authors used fine scale ecological and genomic data to analyze adaptive evolution at separate locations in this well characterized, widely distributed, and abundant Old World passerine.
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