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Old 08-23-2017, 10:52 PM
 
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I've done a lot of reading over the years over the extinction of these two species, yet there is something I cannot quite grasp. How did these two go extinct?

Most of the recent extinctions (from 1500 onward) happened to species that had small populations/range. Take the thylacine, dodo, Steller's sea cow, Labrador duck for example, and you realize that they all covered a very small range and had a relatively small population when they came in contact with humans, so there extinction is quite easy to understand. However the passenger pigeon and rocky mountain locust were so abundant that flocks could block out the sun, not to mention covered a much bigger area. In fact the passenger pigeon was the most common bird until the mid 19th century. Now, I understand that they were hunted for their cheap meat but then we have many other species of pigeon that survived and thrive today. What made the passenger pigeon so unique that it was hunted to the brim of extinction as opposed to the other species of pigeon?

Same with the rocky mountain locust, why did it go extinct as opposed to any other type of grasshopper?
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Old 08-24-2017, 06:05 AM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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The pigeon may have needed the stimulation of large colonies in order to breed successfully. So once the population fell below a certain level, it was doomed.

No one's entirely sure about the locust. Current thought is that plowing/development of certain front range areas destroyed its breeding and overwintering grounds.
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Old 08-24-2017, 06:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
The pigeon may have needed the stimulation of large colonies in order to breed successfully. So once the population fell below a certain level, it was doomed.

No one's entirely sure about the locust. Current thought is that plowing/development of certain front range areas destroyed its breeding and overwintering grounds.
Yes, but what puzzles me is that it happened given the size of the respective populations. Why didn't other species of pigeon which coexisted with the passenger pigeon go extinct given that their population was smaller than the passenger's?
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Old 08-24-2017, 09:29 AM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Originally Posted by Milky Way Resident View Post
Yes, but what puzzles me is that it happened given the size of the respective populations. Why didn't other species of pigeon which coexisted with the passenger pigeon go extinct given that their population was smaller than the passenger's?
Size of the original population offers no protection from extinction if the environment changes in ways that greatly lower breeding success (such as plowing up the locust's breeding and overwintering grounds). The other North American pigeon species didn't need the stimulation of large numbers of other birds to bring them into breeding condition, but the Passenger Pigeon apparently did.
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Old 08-24-2017, 02:04 PM
 
Location: British Columbia ~🌄 ☀️ ♥ 🍁 ♥ ☀️🌄~
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Below at the link is the story of how a billion passenger pigeons became extinct. They were not only killed for meat. They were considered a threatening pest that MUST be eradicated and were deliberately and systematically exterminated right down to the very last bird. It's actually a bit of a horror story when you read about the lengths people went to and the various methods people used to slaughter them.

https://www.damninteresting.com/exti...enger-pigeons/


Other types of pigeons were not considered a threat to livelihood and economies.


.

Last edited by Zoisite; 08-24-2017 at 02:14 PM..
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Old 08-24-2017, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Understandable; other species of pigeons don't form billion-strong flocks that can strip a field or orchard bare in a day.
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Old 08-24-2017, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Eugene, Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
The pigeon may have needed the stimulation of large colonies in order to breed successfully. So once the population fell below a certain level, it was doomed.

No one's entirely sure about the locust. Current thought is that plowing/development of certain front range areas destroyed its breeding and overwintering grounds.

This is correct about the cause of the Passenger Pigeon's extinction. Researchers have found that the strong, colonial-nesting instincts they had, required a minimum of ten million birds in a nesting area, to trigger their reproductive cycle.

Although other species of wild pigeons have been diminished, they still survive, as they can nest independently of others. There were more than 100 million passenger pigeons at one time, all nesting in colonies with more than the ten million required birds. When poaching and mass killing of them reduced the populations of all the colonies below that level, even though there may have been 40 or 50 million of them remaining across the continent, they were indeed doomed.

It is odd, that there weren't some birds that had mutations in their behavioral genes, that allowed them to nest as solitary pairs or small groups. Many species have such variations, that allow for changes in their environments to be accommodated. Today, these pigeons could be held in captivity and with hormone treatment, be artificially induced to nest. Then perhaps, some of the young produced might have such variations and a new variety developed, that could nest in small numbers. Or gene-manipulation might be applied, to bring the same result.
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Old 08-25-2017, 06:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Steve McDonald View Post
This is correct about the cause of the Passenger Pigeon's extinction. Researchers have found that the strong, colonial-nesting instincts they had, required a minimum of ten million birds in a nesting area, to trigger their reproductive cycle.

Although other species of wild pigeons have been diminished, they still survive, as they can nest independently of others. There were more than 100 million passenger pigeons at one time, all nesting in colonies with more than the ten million required birds. When poaching and mass killing of them reduced the populations of all the colonies below that level, even though there may have been 40 or 50 million of them remaining across the continent, they were indeed doomed.

It is odd, that there weren't some birds that had mutations in their behavioral genes, that allowed them to nest as solitary pairs or small groups. Many species have such variations, that allow for changes in their environments to be accommodated. Today, these pigeons could be held in captivity and with hormone treatment, be artificially induced to nest. Then perhaps, some of the young produced might have such variations and a new variety developed, that could nest in small numbers. Or gene-manipulation might be applied, to bring the same result.
Sorry if this is a silly question, but I'm not sure I fully understanding the part about needing a large colony to breed. If you have a 100 passenger pigeons divided equally between male and female, how would they not be able to reproduce and eventually expand their colony?
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Old 08-25-2017, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Originally Posted by Milky Way Resident View Post
Sorry if this is a silly question, but I'm not sure I fully understanding the part about needing a large colony to breed. If you have a 100 passenger pigeons divided equally between male and female, how would they not be able to reproduce and eventually expand their colony?
The birds have to be "in the mood" in order to breed. With some species, that requires the presence of large numbers of other birds of the same species. if the numbers aren't large enough, the birds don't become sexually aroused, and mating doesn't happen. (Or if mating occurs anyway, no eggs are produced because the female isn't ovulating.)

Last edited by Aredhel; 08-25-2017 at 08:19 AM..
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Old 09-19-2017, 05:05 AM
 
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NICE Discussion
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