Scientific American: Vagrant Birds May Portend Species Distribution in Climate-Changed World

An article by Scientific American featured research by Vladimir Dinets, research assistant professor of psychology, on invasive bird species. Long dismissed as accidental tourists, birds that turn up outside their normal ranges may instead be pioneers.

Birds that show up outside of their normal range—vagrants or accidentals, as they are known, have long fascinated birdwatchers. This prompted Dinets to investigate the possible future impacts of such cross-oceanic invasions. Dinets studies brood parasites, species that foist their eggs on unwitting foster species by sneaking them into a host’s nest, saving themselves the effort of rearing chicks and reducing breeding success of the hosts they dupe in the process.

The results of the study suggest that if these brood parasites do invade new continents in significant numbers as climate shifts, the naïve bird species that would become their hosts could face “potentially a very serious problem,” Dinets said.