The endangered Australian regent honeyeater has been the subject of interest for scientists and researchers around the world due, in part, to a recent discovery. Researchers conducting a study in Australia studied the birds in the wild from July 2015 to December 2019, as well as using past field recordings of the birds dating back to the 1980s.
Over the course of their study the scientists found the dramatically reduced numbers of the regent honeyeater in the wild meant the birds were losing their song. Missing their own song, the regent honeyeaters had instead started to copy the songs of the other birds around them.
This has dire implications for the continuing survival of the species, as without a recognizable song call, males and females of the same species will be unable to find each other. A reduction in the number of successful breeding pairs would only further exacerbate the problem of falling population numbers in the wild.
The study was published in late March 2021 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, an academic journal. The journal details the findings of the research study and records a 12% decrease in male regent honeyeaters’ ability to learn the songs of their own species.
Following the release of the study, Kristina Paxton, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii at Hilo said “This study adds to a growing understanding that in many animals, like humans, the loss of cultural identity can have far-ranging effects on their ability to persist”.
The importance of preserving biodiversity in the wild is a key take away point for the findings of this research. The scientists can only hope that by releasing the knowledge to the wider public people will become more aware of the value of conservation. Only patience with the future will give us time to tell.