[Taxacom] Woodpeckers: If any got to Madagascar, they were probably too late

Frederick W. Schueler bckcdb at istar.ca
Thu May 19 10:03:55 CDT 2011


On 5/19/2011 9:57 AM, John Grehan wrote:
> No, its because they don't like aussie beer!

* I see that we've finally gotten to the point in this discussion where 
we have a testable hypothesis.

fred.
=====================================================================

>
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Robin Leech
> Sent: Thu 5/19/2011 12:11 AM
> To: Kenneth Kinman; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Woodpeckers: If any got to Madagascar,they were probably too late
>
>
>
> Well, we know the reason woodpeckers didn't/couldnt survive in
> Australia - the wood is too darn hard.
> teehee
> Robin
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Kenneth Kinman"<kennethkinman at webtv.net>
> To:<taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 8:28 PM
> Subject: [Taxacom] Woodpeckers: If any got to Madagascar,they were probably
> too late
>
>
>> Hi All,
>>       I was thinking about the failure of woodpeckers to become
>> established in Madagascar (or more importantly in Australasia).  Again,
>> I have to assume competitive exclusion as the major factor.
>>       Firstly, woodpeckers are certainly not the most migratory groups
>> of birds.  Compared to song birds in general and various other groups
>> which are more migratory, they aren't likely candidates to be early
>> dispersers to isolated habitats.  Most woodpeckers tend to stay in a
>> relatively limited range year-round.
>>      Furthermore, they are thought to have originated in the northern
>> hemisphere, while Passeriformes are thought to have originated in the
>> southern hemisphere.  Passeriforms thus had the home court advantage in
>> the south (even ignoring the fact that they are, as a group, better
>> migrators).
>>        Therefore, once the northern woodpeckers finally reached Africa,
>> they probably had a fighting chance in some niches continent-wide.
>> However, even if such relative-non-migrators reached Madagascar at all
>> (admitedly a possibility given millions of years), a well-entrenched
>> fauna of passeriforms, cuckoos, rollers, and other birds would have made
>> life miserable, if not impossible, for such johnny-come-latelies in
>> Madagascar.  In the Americas, woodpeckers seem to have had better luck
>> diversifying in the extremely diverse environments in  South America (at
>> least compared to out lying areas in the Old World like Madagascar or
>> Australasia).
>>       As for Australasia, passeriforms were clearly there by the early
>> Eocene of Australia, and presumably earlier.  If woodpeckers had even
>> tried to disperse over the Wallace Line (doubtful for a group not adept
>> at migration or rapid expansion), a well-entrenched and diverse
>> passeriform population would have most likely eliminated the invaders by
>> competitive exclusion at various steps of attempted island-hopping.  And
>> that is not even considering other competitors from other Orders of
>> birds, or even pressures from birds of prey or non-bird predators which
>> such northern birds would have not evolved much ability to confront.
>> Given all of that, I feel little need to worry too much about molecular
>> clocks or even sparse fossil records.  Woodpeckers probably had little
>> chance invading (becoming established in) either Madagascar or even the
>> outskirts of Australasia.
>>               -------------Ken
>>
>>
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-- 
------------------------------------------------------------
           Frederick W. Schueler & Aleta Karstad
Bishops Mills Natural History Centre - http://pinicola.ca/bmnhc.htm
Thirty Years Later Expedition - 
http://fragileinheritance.org/projects/thirty/thirtyintro.htm
Longterm ecological monitoring - http://fragileinheritance.org/
Daily Paintings - http://karstaddailypaintings.blogspot.com/
            http://www.doingnaturalhistory.com/
          http://quietcuratorialtime.blogspot.com/
      RR#2 Bishops Mills, Ontario, Canada K0G 1T0
    on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain 44* 52'N 75* 42'W
     (613)258-3107 <bckcdb at istar.ca> http://pinicola.ca/
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