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Pardal comú, Paser domesticus

Science Research

Natural diversity

Vertebrate ecology

The generation of knowledge on the ecology and biology of chordates is a key element in Chordata Laboratory activity, which is why the researchers in this area participate in or lead other projects on bird ecology (Javier Quesada) and reptile ecology (Eulàlia Garcia).

Applied and Evolutionary ecology of birds : there are two aspects of this research. One is working on behavioural ecology, focusing on the communication signals of plumage colouration birds resulting from sexual and social selection processes, and how this applies to actual environmental problems such as, for example, the development of bioindicators. The other line takes a more applied approach, endeavouring to understand how the processes of human disturbance and global change (urban development and the introduction of alien species) are affecting bird communities and specific species such as the house sparrow. (Head researcher: Javier Quesada.)

Other lines of research are related to fish biology (Ichthyology) (Head researcher: Josep Escribano), the distribution, abundance and aspects of the biology of reptiles and amphibians (Herpetology) (Head researcher: Xavier Pascual) and also Archaeozoology, which studies the fossilised remains of non-passeriform birds found in deposits in Catalonia. (Head researcher: Lluís Garcia-Petit.)

Research projects

  • PASSER-CAT: Biology of the conservation of a declining species: the house sparrow

    Year
    2011
    Supported
    Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona; Barcelona Zoo Foundation
    Duration
    2011 to date

    The aim of this project is to study the population dynamics and ascertain the reasons for the decline of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) in Catalonia, especially in urban areas, to provide solutions for conservation management.

    This is a Museum project co-funded by Barcelona Zoo Foundation, within the line of studies on diversity. Collaborators: Institut Català d’Ornitologia (Catalan Institute of Ornithology) and Departament de Medi Ambient de l’Ajuntament de Barcelona.

  • Spatial and temporal analysis of the genetic diversity of the house sparrow in Mediterranean environments

    Year
    2014
    Supported
    Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona; Barcelona Zoo Foundation
    Duration
    2014-2015

    The main aim of PASSERCAT-4 is initially to attempt to:

    1. determine whether there has been a temporal and spatial reduction in genetic diversity in the urban and rural Mediterranean populations of this species.
    2. find out what mechanism could determine the possible reduction in genetic diversity, potentially due to population declines, fragmentation and isolation, which then accelerate the loss of genetic due to genetic drift and consanguinity.

    Researchers: Javier Quesada; Rocío Pérez-Portela.

  • UC-MEXUS: House Sparrows in native vs. non-native habitats: direct and indirect effects on avian diversity and density

    Year
    2013
    Supported
    University of California
    Duration
    2013-2014

    The main aim of this project is to evaluate the factors that make the house sparrow a successful invasive species and in what conditions it represents a threat to the native bird populations of North America. We shall concentrate particularly on:

    1. estimating the density of house sparrows in urban-agricultural gradients in Los Angeles, Mexico DF and Barcelona;
    2. studying aspects of the personality of house sparrows in urban-agricultural gradients in the three cities, and
    3. evaluating the effect of the presence and density of the house sparrow and its relation to the diversity of the communities of native birds.

    The Museum and researchers from the University of California (UCLA), USA, and the Xalapa Institute of Ecology, Mexico, are all taking part in the project.

    Researchers: Ian MacGregor-Fors, Pamela Yeh and Javier Quesada.

  • Local adaptation and sexual selection: personality, plumage coloration and bird song as model

    Year
    2013
    Supported
    Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad
    Duration
    2012-2015

    The chordates department is currently collaborating in this Museum project, one of whose main aims is to take a comprehensive approach, incorporating both ecological interactions and sexual selection into the analysis of the adaptation processes.

  • Sexing of skeletons of nocturnal birds of prey, using discriminant functions and molecular techniques

    Year
    2012
    Supported
    Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona
    Duration
    2013 to date

    Sexing by means of molecular techniques enables us to accurately determine the sex of specimens from their skeletons. The aim of this project is to perform biometric analysis on the bones of the specimens to determine the sex of each individual based on its biometric bone measurements.

    Researchers: Javier Quesada and Olga Boet.