Back to language school for ‘woodland birds’

Ok class…. How do we classify a woodland bird? Anyone, anyone…. Occurrence. But how often? Anyone, anyone…. Probably very often. Foragers or just nesters? Anyone, anyone…. 

Seriously though, these are kind of trick questions as there is no standardised list of what is and what is not a woodland bird. This actually highlights a more fundamental issue in ecology which is the use of vague and ambiguous terminology.

Better go back to the classroom! Principle Hannah and her colleagues did the review, re-analysed some results, and asked the experts… ‘so woodland birds, who are they?’ Turns out there is a whole bunch of species inconsistently classified…. which has the potential to change results if we change who is and isn’t….. and that experts are divided about whether this inconsistency is even an issue.

So it’s a bit messy at the moment but surely consistency and standardisation is the answer.

For the actual science of this story you should definitely read the paper and contact the authors if you have any questions.

Fraser H, Garrard GE, Rumpff L, Hauser CE & McCarthy MA (2015) Consequences of inconsistently classifying woodland birdsFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution 3: 83.

K!E#2 by Luke S. O’Loughlin

2 thoughts on “Back to language school for ‘woodland birds’

  1. Some birds may live in woodlands,
    Others on a rock,
    A few reside in jungles
    And cuckoos prefer a clock.
    But we can just say thank you
    For Hannah’s broad research
    So now we’ll know just who should have
    A home in woodlands perch!


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