Behavioral Ecology of Tropical Birds, Second Edition - Chapter 1 - Why are tropical birds interesting?

Elsevier, Behavioral Ecology of Tropical Birds, Second Edition, 2022, pp 1-8
Bridget J.M. Stutchbury, Eugene S. Morton

Tropical birds are interesting because they are so different from typical temperate zone birds upon which the overwhelming amount of research in avian behavioral ecology has been based. Although stark temperate-tropical differences in life history traits, such as clutch size and lifespan, have intrigued ecologists for decades, far less attention has been paid to other aspects of behavioral ecology. Tropical birds provide endless ways to test behavioral ecology hypotheses because their behavior, and their ecology, is far more diverse than typical temperate zone birds. The factors driving timing of breeding are far more varied in the tropics and different species breed at opposite times of the year. The selection pressures that influence parental care, territoriality, mating systems, and migration within the tropics are also highly varied. Biodiversity peaks in the tropics and so does the importance of biotic interactions such as mixed-species flocks and bird-plant specializations. Tropical habitats are facing among the world’s highest rates of degradation and loss, yet the natural history of many tropical birds remains unstudied. We urgently need to fill the gaps in behavioral ecology studies of tropical birds before we lose the chance to understand the rich evolutionary history that has created this behavioral diversity.