New study finds baby songbirds in the nest may face different risks out of the nest

Baby songbirds in the nest face naturally tough odds. Unable to fly, they are easy prey for cats, snakes, and even other birds. But the perils don't end when the young birds venture out from the nest. Now, new research shows that the risks baby migratory songbirds face in the nest are not necessarily the same out of the nest. The findings may have important implications for migratory songbird conservation.

"For a lot of migratory songbird species, the current conservation goal for the breeding grounds is to produce more nestlings," said Julie Jenkins, an avian ecologist who led the study. "This strategy assumes that factors that are important for nest success are the same for juvenile post-fledging success."

Extinction of large animals could make climate change worse

The extinction of large animals from tropical forests could make climate change worse. New research reveals that a decline in fruit-eating animals such as large primates, tapirs and toucans could have a knock-on effect for tree species.

The extinction of large animals from tropical forests could make climate change worse -- according to researchers.

New research reveals that a decline in fruit-eating animals such as large primates, tapirs and toucans could have a knock-on effect for tree species.

This is because large animals disperse large seeded plant species often associated with large trees and high wood density -- which are more effective at capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than smaller trees.

Seed dispersal by large-bodied vertebrates is via the ingestion of viable seeds that pass through the digestive tract intact.

Removing large animals from the ecosystem upsets the natural balance and leads to a loss of heavy-wooded large trees, which means that less CO2 can be locked away.

Prof Carlos Peres, said: "Large birds and mammals provide almost all the seed dispersal services for large-seeded plants. Several large vertebrates are threatened by hunting.

Are forests of the future at risk?

Human disturbance negatively affects the pollination and seed dispersal of forest trees -- an effect that can be observed in both tropical and temperate forests. This is the key result of a synthesis of 408 studies from 34 countries around the globe.

In the long term, less pollination and seed dispersal is likely to reduce the ability of forests to natural regenerate.

The researchers investigated all processes in the plant regeneration cycle and specifically asked how much they are each affected by humans.

To assess the effects of humans, they compared near-natural forests with those exposed to intensive human disturbance.

Hummingbird vision wired to avoid high-speed collisions

Hummingbirds are among nature's most agile fliers. They can travel faster than 50 kilometres per hour and stop on a dime to navigate through dense vegetation.

Now researchers have discovered that the tiny birds process visual information differently from other animals, perhaps to handle the demands of their extreme aerial acrobatics.

"Birds fly faster than insects and it's more dangerous if they collide with things," said Roslyn Dakin, a postdoctoral fellow who led the study. "We wanted to know how they avoid collisions and we found that hummingbirds use their environment differently than insects to steer a precise course."

House-hunting ants know how to take the hassle out of moving

Ants employ a few simple and flexible rules to ensure that moving a colony to a new nest does not end in chaos, especially if this is done over some distance. So says Thomas O'Shea-Wheller, lead author of an article .His study indicates that when it comes to giving directions, ants have it down to a fine art.

Researchers often use the house-hunting ant (Temnothorax albipennis) to investigate the migration strategies and behaviour of social insect colonies.