News Round-Up

Starling success traced to rapid adaptation


Love them or hate them, there’s no doubt the European Starling is a wildly successful bird.

A new study from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology examines what exactly happened at the genetic level as the nonnative starling population exploded – from just 80 birds released in New York’s Central Park in 1890, to a peak of 200 million breeding adults spread across North America.

“The amazing thing about the evolutionary changes among starling populations since they were introduced in North America is that the changes happened in a span of just 130 years in parallel with a huge expansion in the bird’s range and population size,” said doctoral student Natalie Hofmeister, first author of “Environmental correlates of genetic variation in the invasive European starling in North America,” published Jan. 19 in Molecular Ecology. MORE

Header image: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.