Darwin’s conjecture is now scientifically proven: the closer to the equator, the more colorful the songbird | Instagram news VTM

Life in the tropics around the equator is hotter. Scientists at the University of Sheffield in Great Britain conclude that this also applies to songbirds. The closer to the equator, the more colorful the plumage of birds. This conclusion is evidence of an old theory of Darwin.


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Last updated:
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source:
nature

During his travels through the 19th century, Darwin had already noticed that songbirds in the region around the equator were hotter than anywhere else. This theory has been circulating for centuries, but it cannot be scientifically confirmed. Researchers have now scientifically proven that the feathers of songbirds in the region around the equator are more colorful than those of species that live far away.

Scientists have compared the colors of more than 4,500 species of songbirds from around the world. The birds were always photographed from the same points, accounting for more than 140,000 images.

On the left is a colorful bird from South America, and on the right is a gray dipper from Germany. © AP

Using sophisticated computer technology, the color of each bird was determined based on the number of colors in its feathers. Scientists have established a clear link with the habitat of songbirds, something that Darwin had already noticed. They chose songbirds specifically for their study, because about 60 percent of all birds belong to this species.

“The study reveals a broader pattern that bird species at the equator are up to 30 per cent more colorful,” said Chris Cooney of the University of Sheffield. “This applies to both male and female birds, although they often differ a lot in color.”

Yellow-colored willow, a songbird you find mainly in the northern tropical regions of South America.

Yellow-colored willow, a songbird you find mainly in the northern tropical regions of South America. © AP

Biodiversity

Why birds in the tropics are hotter than birds in the north or south is still a question mark. Scientists think the diet of birds in the tropics may play a role. They eat fruit and flower nectar often, which may explain the color of their plumage. Forest density could also be an explanation. A colorful look is essential to stand out and communicate better with each other. In addition, birds can better distinguish themselves due to their different colors.

More research is needed to scientifically prove these last conjectures. “There is a lot to learn about the micro-environmental and evolutionary factors that promote color increase in tropical species,” Kony said. According to the scientist, the current findings already make sense for better measures to protect biodiversity.

The research was published in the scientific journal Nature.

Starling in Berlin.  Its feathers are clearly less colorful.

Starling in Berlin. Its feathers are clearly less colorful. © AP

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Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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