Evolutionary Ecology of Birds: Life Histories, Mating systems, and Extinction

Paperback | December 15, 2001

byPeter Bennett, Ian Owens

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Birds show bewildering diversity in their life histories, mating systems and risk of extinction. Why do albatrosses delay reproduction for the first 12 years of their life while zebra finches breed in their first year ? Why are fairy-wrens so sexually promiscuous while swans show lifelongmonogamy? Why are over a quarter of parrot species threatened with global extinction while woodpeckers and cuckoos remain secure? Some of these topics, such as delayed onset of breeding in seabirds, are classic problems in evolutionary ecology, while others have arisen in the last decade, such as genetic mating systems and extinction. Birds offer a unique opportunity for investigating these questions because they areexceptionally well-studied in the wild. By employing phylogenetic comparative methods and a database of up to 3,000 species, the authors identify the ecological and evolutionary basis of many of these intriguing questions. They also highlight remaining puzzles and identify a series of challenges forfuture investigation. This is the most comprehensive reappraisal of avian diversity since David Lack's classic "Ecological Adaptations for Breeding in Birds". It is also the most extensive application of modern comparative methods yet undertaken. This novel approach demonstrates how an evolutionary perspective canreveal the general ecological processes that underpin contemporary avian diversity on a global scale.

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Birds show bewildering diversity in their life histories, mating systems and risk of extinction. Why do albatrosses delay reproduction for the first 12 years of their life while zebra finches breed in their first year ? Why are fairy-wrens so sexually promiscuous while swans show lifelongmonogamy? Why are over a quarter of parrot speci...

Peter Bennett is at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, UK. Ian Owens is in the Department of Biology, Imperial College London at Silwood Park, Ascot, UK.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.63 inPublished:December 15, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198510896

ISBN - 13:9780198510895

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Table of Contents

Comparative biology of birds1. Comparative methodsNatural selection and diversity in life histories 2. Diversity among living species3. Patterns of covariation between life history traits4. Ecological basis of life history and diversity5. Further problemsSexual selection and diversity in mating system 6. Variation in mating systems and sexual dimorphism7. Ecological basis of mating system diversity8. Ecological basis of sexual dimorphism9. Further problemsBirth and death of bird species 10. Variation in extinction risk and species richness11. Explaining variation and extinction risk12. Explaining variation in species richness13. Further problems14. Conclusions

Editorial Reviews

`Provides a useful overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the comparative method and stimulates thinking about how we can learn more about variation in avian life histories and mating systems.'Arie van Noordwijk in Nature (2002)