The planetary success of ravens and crows explained

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The Planetary Success of Ravens and Crows Explained

These birds, well known for their croaking and intelligence, live in a wide variety of habitats all over the planet.

Two Common Ravens (Corvus corax)

Three characteristics explain the remarkable adaptability of ravens and crows, which have proliferated almost everywhere on the planet, believe American and Spanish biologists.

Unlike other species of corvids which do not Most colonize only one continent, raven and crow species have a wide distribution on a planetary scale.

Biologist Joan Garcia-Porta and colleagues associated with Washington University in St. Louis, USA, have determined that the success of these birds depends on their longer wings, larger body and brain than those of their corvid cousins.

  • Long wings allowed them to fly longer than other corvid species. This allowed these birds to disperse better around the world.
  • Their body size also gave them a competitive advantage over smaller species, helping them establish themselves in a new world. environment.
  • Possessing a large brain has given these species an intellectual advantage over other corvids. They were able to adapt to a new environment, which increased their chances of long-term survival.

To achieve these three characteristics associated with their success, the team analyzed corvid specimens from museums in Europe and the United States. Birds of the genus Corvusconsistently had longer wings, larger bodies, and larger brains than their corvid cousins.

It had been established in the past that the wing length of crows and crows allowed them to fly further and gain easier access to new habitats. But the present study shows that their large bodies and large brains allowed these species to survive in the new areas they were reaching.

When we think about a species' ability to spread, it's important to consider not just the ability to reach new places, but also the ability to survive once there, says Professor Carlos Botero. in biology at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Our work suggests that ravens and crows colonized new spaces quickly, because they were particularly good at adapting to different habitats. ”

— Carlos Botero

It was therefore their great behavioral flexibility that allowed these birds to survive the initial periods of maladjustment. Subsequently, ravens and crows experienced high rates of trait evolution. During this evolution, new species have differentiated themselves from the original species, with which they can no longer even reproduce.

Arriving in a new environment the exposed to novel selective pressures, which often promote changes in an organism's phenotype that facilitate survival. For example, in the case of ravens and crows, new beak shapes have appeared that did not exist in any other corvid.

Details of this work are published in the journal Nature Communications (in English).

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