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A new bird species — a small brown bird weighing about half an ounce — has black and yellow bands and a large beak, according to a report in Nature, the scientific journal, on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022.
The new finding, scientists note, is proof of the importance of observing wildlife in some of the most remote places on Earth.
The Diego Ramirez Archipelago at the tip of South America is geographically isolated — plus it lacks terrestrial mammalian predators and woody plants, the study said.
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“These birds move closer to ground level and instead of nesting in hollows in trees, they breed in hollows in the ground, reflecting different life histories,” the Nature study said.
The new bird was found in a treeless location, according to Reuters.
One of the researchers, Rodrigo Vasquez, a biologist at the University of Chile, said genetic studies confirmed that the newly discovered species “differs from the rest of the species from the classical rayadito species in one mutation,” among other differences in shape. and behavior, Reuters noted.
The newly identified bird has been given the name Rayadito subantartico (Aphrastura subantarctica).
The small group of subantarctic islands has a tundra climate – so tree growth there is stunted by bitter temperatures and short growing seasons.
“There are no shrubs and no forest species – literally in the middle of the ocean a forest bird has managed to survive,” Ricardo Rozzi, an academic from the University of Magallanes in Chile and the University of North Texas – as well as director of the Cape Horn International Center for Global Change Studies and Biocultural Conservation (CHIC) – told Reuters.
Rozzi also indicated that the species could turn into “a symbol … that will contribute” to information about the obscure Diego Ramirez Islands.
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The investigation spanned six years.
During that time, scientists say they captured and measured 13 individual birds on the island.
“The birds of the Diego Ramirez population were significantly heavier and larger (with a longer and wider bill and longer tarsi), but they had a significantly shorter tail,” the study said.
With the finding, researchers said the study emphasized “the need to monitor and conserve this still-pristine archipelago with no exotic species,” brought in from elsewhere, mostly by humans — who then often prey on local wildlife, Reuters reported.
The study emphasized “the need to monitor and conserve this still pristine archipelago with no exotic species.”
The government of Chile announced the creation of the Diego Ramírez Islands-Drake Passage Marine Park in 2017, to protect the Diego Ramirez Islands, according to reports.
The park encompasses 140,000 square miles of Chile’s southern waters, starting in the Cape Horn and extending southwards to the 200 miles of Chile’s economic zone toward Antarctica, Reuters noted.
As Nature reported: “The Diego Ramírez is the southernmost point of the South American continent. Although it is only about 100 km [62 miles] southwest of Cape Horn on the edge of the continental shelf, it is separated from it by one of the world’s roughest seas in the northern part of the Drake Passage, with harsh climatic conditions and difficult access from the continent.”
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The archipelago of small islands, rocks and reefs, it went on, “offers a total land area of only 79 hectares.”
“The strong barrier to dispersal and small size likely severely limit effective population migration to Diego Ramírez, favoring the emergence of a fauna with zoogeographic novelties.”
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The researchers said the bird’s characteristics indicate it isn’t a great flier — given that in the Diego Ramirez Islands area, gusts exceed 100 kilometers per hour (or about 62 miles per hour).
Reuters contributed to this article.