December 13, 2010
Humans Helped Vultures Colonize The Canary Islands
The Egyptian vulture population of the Canary Islands was established following the arrival of the first human settlers who brought livestock to the islands. A genetic comparison of Iberian and Canarian birds, published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, found that the Egyptian vulture population in the Canary Islands was likely established around 2500 years ago "“ around the same time as humans began to colonise the islands.
Rosa Agudo worked with a team of researchers from the DoÃ±ana Biological Station, Seville, Spain, to investigate genetic and morphological changes between 143 Iberian birds and 242 from Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands. She said, "We found that the island vultures are significantly heavier and larger than those from Iberia. The establishment of this insular population took place some 2500 years ago, matching the date of human colonization. Our results suggest that human activity can trigger divergent evolution and that this process may take place on a relatively brief time scale".
On the Net: