Posts Tagged ‘Peacocks’

Human Vision Inadequate For Research On Bird Vision

May 23, 2008

The most attractive male birds attract more females and as a result are most successful in terms of reproduction. This is the starting point of many studies looking for factors that influence sexual selection in birds. However, is it reasonable to assume that birds see what we see? In a study published in the latest issue of American Naturalist, Uppsala researchers show that our human vision is not an adequate instrument.

“The results mean that many studies on sexual selection may need to be re-evaluated,” says Anders Odeen, research assistant at the Department of Animal Ecology at Uppsala University, who carried out this study with his colleague Olle Håstad.

The significance of birds’ plumage, both in terms of richness of colour and particular signals, has been shown to be a major factor in birds’ choice of partner. In order to assess the colours of birds, everything from binoculars to RGB image analyses are used. However, most studies are based on the hypothesis that human colour vision can be used to assess what birds see.

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When Animals Go AWOL, Zoos Try To Tame Bad PR

January 6, 2008


When an escaped tiger killed a San Francisco zoo visitor on Christmas, it was the biggest blow yet to an industry that has been working hard to improve its reputation.

The problem: Some animals aren’t cooperating.

In 2007, at least 10 animal escapes from U.S. zoos generated press coverage. Fugitives include a cheetah that scaled a fence at the St. Louis Zoo, a peacock that walked out of the Denver Zoo and took up residence on the front porch of a nearby house, and a geriatric spider monkey named Rena who jimmied open her cage door at the Dallas Zoo before being recaptured.

Still at large: an African white-backed vulture with a nine-foot wing span that squeezed through a fence in Dallas. “The general feeling was that she could survive out in the wild,” says Karen Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the zoo, adding that the search is ongoing.

Most animal escapes don’t result in injuries to people, and the critters are usually captured and returned home. But zoo officials say recent breakouts have forced them to talk about safety at a time when they would rather discuss topics like improved facilities and efforts to save endangered species.

The nation’s largest zoos are in the midst of a public-relations campaign led by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums — a trade group that accredits zoos — to counter recent accusations by animal-rights groups that captive creatures are mistreated. They’re launching educational campaigns about the animal aging process, for example, to show that when an animal dies it is often due to natural causes. They’re also talking publicly about incidents, including escapes, that they might not have disclosed in the past.

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