Pigeons and doves are the most vulnerable birds in the world, which are found abundantly in every corner of the city. Especially passenger pigeons which were once found in large numbers in North America are known to be extinct in the country. They had the capacity to reach 300 miles long and blot out the sun in the morning.
These wild pigeons are no longer seen in parts of North America as numbers have been decreasing sharply since 1800 by falling prey to hunting. The passenger pigeons, which were once five billion in number during the 19th century, have been recently reduced to mere zero, with the last surviving female member of the passenger pigeon Martha breathing its last in Cincinnati Zoo.
There are many theories behind the extinction of these species but the exact reason remains a mystery for all the researchers. The new study suggests that passenger pigeons which were adapted to living in huge flocks faced difficulties to get adapted to living in smaller groups. Due to these sudden changes, their population began to diminish. As a result, the extinction of these wild pigeons was unstoppable.
"Passenger pigeons did really well for tens of thousands of years, and then suddenly they went extinct. Paradoxically, their enormous population size may have been a factor in their extinction," corresponding author Beth Shapiro, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology told AAS.
The researchers also found out that the population of these birds might have played a major role in their extinction after analyzing DNA test of toes.Though the population of passenger pigeons evolved quickly, the process lost certain traits which were useful for surviving in smaller groups.
As birds were unable to adapt to the rapid drop in the population size caused by hunting, solving the mystery about the extinction of these wild pigeons became simpler. The researchers also provided a warning that even the most abundant animals are threatened by swift changes in the world around them.