[CT Birds] From Recent Science Journals
ls.broker at cox.net
Fri Jan 9 14:25:43 EST 2009
From Steve Broker (Cheshire):
(1) The 1 January 2009 issue of the journal Nature has an editorial
on the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count [457(7225):
8]. The editorial says, in part:
"The 5th of January marks the completion of the 109th Christmas bird
count, a yearly rite in which groups of North American bird-lovers
pick a day around the winter solstice, fan out in teams to their
designated areas, and count every bird that they can see.
"Held every year since 1900, when the National Audubon Society
proposed it as an alternative to the then-popular Yuletide activity
of competitively shooting birds, the count is the longest-running
volunteer science project in the world. Its data have informed reams
of peer-reviewed work, such as an ongoing effort by Audubon
researchers to predict how birds will adjust their ranges in response
to climate change.
"Volunteer science is a win-win situation for all concerned.
Scientists get to take on projects that would not be feasible for
even the largest research group, while helping to increase the
public's understanding of, and support for, science. And the
volunteers get to have fun, while experiencing the satisfaction of
defending the environment, fighting disease [a reference to other
volunteer science efforts] or expanding human knowledge.
"In the Christmas bird count, the most skilled bird spotters and
identifiers are inevitably the non-scientists; professional
ornithologists spend too much time doing paperwork." [Our
professional ornithologists in Connecticut have long since taken the
editorial's advice that "while they are at it, perhaps they should
also consider joining one or more citizen science projects themselves."]
(2) The 19 December 2008 issue of the journal Science has a
Perspectives article by Rick Prum, "Who's Your Daddy?
(Evolution)" [322(5909): 1799-1800]. Rick's Perspectives article
comments on the report by Varricchio, et al. in the same issue:
"Avian paternal care had dinosaur origin" (pages 1826-1828). "Who's
Your Daddy?" discusses parental care in theropod dinosaurs (including
male-only nest care). It concludes, "Scientists are now identifying
the dinosaurian origins of many of the formerly unique features of
birds. Are there limits to ornithological revelations that the
theropod origin of birds will yield? It seems not. Focused research
and lucky paleontological discoveries may someday uncover the
theropod origin of bird song, avian respiration, and more."
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