Beginning life in captivity changes a bird’s wing shape, hindering a migratory bird’s chances of survival when released into the wild.
This is demonstrated by new research from the Australian National University (ANU). Its author, Dr. Dejan Stojanovic, says that while breeding in captivity is an important conservation tool, it can also cause various physical changes in animals, such as wing shape.
One of the bird species examined was the endangered orange-bellied parrot.
The orange-bellied parrot has one of the largest and longest breeding programs of any Australian species. To avoid extinction, its wild population is supplemented by the annual release of juveniles from captivity.
Dr Stojanovic said in a statement, “We have previously shown that wing shapes can change in orange-bellied parrots in captivity.
“However, this new study reveals the first direct evidence that wing shape changes in captivity reduce migration success after release into the wild.
All juvenile orange-bellied parrots have poor migration survival rates, but captive-bred birds with altered wing shapes have better survival rates than birds with ideal ‘wild-type’ wings (2.7). was twice as low.
The study also found evidence of changes in wing shape in four other bird species in captivity, suggesting that these changes may be more common in captivity than previously thought. suggests that there is
“This is likely just the tip of the iceberg of subtle physical changes in the body of animals raised in captivity that are often overlooked, but can have a significant impact upon release,” Dr. Stojanovic said. said.
“We need to recognize this and find ways to mitigate the impact of capture in order to give breeding programs the best chance of supporting wild populations.”
It is not yet known why birds’ plumage is so variable, whether it is genetic or due to the environment in which they are reared.
“There are other open questions: Will captive wing-shaped birds be able to revert to their optimal wild form? Would flight training help? We need to find a way to breed animals that are suitable for life on the planet.” Stojanovich.
“This could be particularly important as the global extinction crisis is forcing more species to participate in captive breeding programs.”
The study is published in Ecology Letters.