12 February 2009

In the field with Darwin's mockingbirds

Hands down, Lukas Keller and Paquita Hoeck win the prize for best Darwin Day celebration activity - I mean, how can you beat doing field work in Galapagos ...on Darwin's mockingbirds ...on Darwin's 200th birthday?

Yes, my friends and collaborators at University of Zurich are there, now, taking a census and sampling DNA from the remaining mockingbirds on satellite islands near Floreana, where Darwin first saw them and subsequently remarked (for the first time evah) in his ornithology notes that these observations could "undermine the stability of species".

The point of all the field work (and impending lab work) is to understand not only the evolutionary history of mockingbirds but also the genetic structure of the remaining populations, to help make better decisions when it comes to reintroducing the birds back onto Floreana, a process which we hope will begin very soon.

The good news is you don't have to imagine it in your mind's eye, because the BBC has gone there and filmed them! Check it out:

BBC coverage of Floreana mockingbird, starring Lukas Keller and Paquita Hoeck.

You can help the Floreana mockingbird reintroduction project by donating at the Galapagos Conservation Trust website.

Backstory:

2 comments:

Jon K said...

We may not be able to better the efforts of Lukas & Paquita, but I think to let this occassion pass without a celebration of some kind would be wrong.
Darwin-Drinks, Beagle-Beers perhaps?

Karen James said...

Jon, I am live-tweeting Darwin Day on Twitter www.twitter.com/kejames