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Old Monday 14th January 2008, 23:55   #1
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Post Extinction threat to Scots bird (BBC News)

The Scottish Crossbill, the UK's only endemic bird, faces extinction according to the RSPB.

More from BBC News...
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 14:16   #2
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The Indy has a more comprehensive piece on it on today.
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 14:27   #3
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Why is osprey listed as likely to go? They have distribution all over the show; qwe have resident birds here for example so surely increased heat won't drive them away?
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 15:13   #4
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The only problem with this theory regarding pinewood birds is that although the future climate may no longer be optimal for native pinewoods, that doesn't mean those forests will disappear. Scots Pine can grow quite happily far to the south and west of its natural range if its displacement by other better-adapted species is prevented.

I suppose the effects of climate change will depend on whether climate directly affects a bird's distribution (as it seems to for things like skuas) or whether the relationship is indirect through the climate's effect on habitat, as many other factors can affect habitat.
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 15:14   #5
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Extinct? Have they actually all made up their minds whether or not it exists?

I thought there was still a bit of controversy in certain circles.
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 15:18   #6
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Extinct? Have they actually all made up their minds whether or not it exists?

I thought there was still a bit of controversy in certain circles.
There are certainly crossbills in Scotland with bill size intermediate between common and parrot crossbill which have not been recorded anywhere else, and they seem to prefer to mate with each other in preference to common and parrot crossbills. As to whether they (or any of the several common crossbill types, or indeed parrot crossbill) are separate species is open to debate!
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 15:24   #7
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There are certainly crossbills in Scotland with bill size intermediate between common and parrot crossbill which have not been recorded anywhere else.....
There are also crossbills intermediate in size between Scottish and Parrot.

Lindsay
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 15:39   #8
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The Scottish Crossbill, the UK's only endemic bird, faces extinction according to the RSPB.

More from BBC News...

Mmmm. This is an old story - I recall something along the lines of the Scottish Crossbill being 'displaced' to Iceland !

Whilst I generally support the RSPB ( I am member !) in their conservation efforts, I believe that ill informed PR does not do them or the climate change argument any favours.

There was a very good piece on the general misinformation within the press and media regarding the effects of climate change in a recent Scottish Bird News (No.84, June 2006) by Dr. Adam Watson, a leading and very respected Scottish ecologist.

Regarding, Scots Pines and Crossbills, Dr. Watson writes:

"Soil changes under natural conditions are extremely slow, and the consensus is that it may take 1000 years for soil in temperate regions to reach a relatively stable state. Also, soils are resistant to change under natural conditions. Hence the infertile podzols of Caledonian pinewood should continue, as should plants that prefer them, such as heather and pine, and animals that use these plants, such as crossbills. Also, Scots pine thrives on land far hotter than Scotland, such as some Mediterranean regions. The key factor is soil".

Dr. Watson in his piece is not denying that climate change is real or a problem for the future, but rather is drawing attention to the fact that the evidence or facts are not being reported responsibly or factually by the media. This would seem to include the RSPB PR machine.
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 16:16   #9
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Extinct? Have they actually all made up their minds whether or not it exists?

I thought there was still a bit of controversy in certain circles.
It's still on the British list.
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 17:17   #10
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But for how long????? I've ticked them all anyway!! Well, hasn't everyone else??
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 20:17   #11
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The BBC article draws attention to the other species that will definitely be affected - unfortunately we don't really know who the survivors long term will be. Certainly the balance will be upset, however it turns out.
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 21:22   #12
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But for how long??
Given that the RSPB are currently undertaking a national survey to measure the population of Scottish Crossbills I think it is safe to accept there will be 'a' Scottish Crossbill for quite some time !
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Old Tuesday 15th January 2008, 22:57   #13
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There are certainly crossbills in Scotland with bill size intermediate between common and parrot crossbill which have not been recorded anywhere else, and they seem to prefer to mate with each other in preference to common and parrot crossbills. As to whether they (or any of the several common crossbill types, or indeed parrot crossbill) are separate species is open to debate!
I am sure everyone is aware of the genetic study by Dr Stuart Piertney (an old university friend and colleague of mine - Hi Stuart!) of Aberdeen University. The degree of separation between the three 'species' was less than is normally found between subspecies. However, the sonographs, behaviour and (to a lesser extent) geographical range suggest there is no intermixing of the 'species'. Combining the two ideas (speciation and races), we have three species in the earliest stages of evolution (creationists, look away now) that may have been separated in the past (ice extent???) but have been thrown back together and do not interbreed. Similar situations seem to have happened several times and a look at some of the warbler families shows they must have had some separation in the past before changing climate brought them back together.

Hmm! Changing climate! The problem being, the Scottish crossbill is not found anywhere else and given the above evidence does not set out whether it is a separated and viable hybrid (thereby fitting in with Stephen Gould's idea of punctuated equilibrium)* or a recently thrown back into contact split (classic Darwinian theory), I think we should assume it is unique and worth protecting.

Ian

* I offer this up for a possible explanation for Punctuated Equilibrium at no cost.
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