Canberra: Life in captivity hinders birds’ chances of surviving migratory flights, a new research has found.
In a study published on Friday, researchers from Australian National University (ANU) have shown that changes in wing shape among birds bred in captivity have a significant impact on their survival in the wild, Xinhua news agency reported.
For the orange-bellied parrot, a critically endangered native species that is the subject of one of the largest breeding programs of any Australian species, captive-bred juveniles with altered wing shapes had a migration survival rate 2.7 times lower than those with an ideal wing.
A previous study published by ANU in November revealed that animals bred in captivity develop physical and behavioral changes.
The new research found direct evidence for the first time that the altered wing shapes of orange-bellied parrots lower migration success.
It also found evidence of altered wing shapes in four other captive bird species.
Dejan Stojanovic, author of the study from the ANU College of Science, said the findings could have widespread implications for breeding programs.
“This is likely only the tip of an iceberg of subtle physical changes to the bodies of captive bred animals that, although easily overlooked, have a big impact after release,” he said in a media release.
“We should be aware of this and find ways to mitigate the effects of captivity if we want to give our breeding programs the best chance of supporting wild populations.”
This could become especially important as the global extinction crisis forces more species into captive breeding programs, he said.