Whooping crane parents can be a bad influence

Knowledge passed down from adult whooping cranes to their offspring can cause harm to their young. 

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New research suggests that behaviours and traditions passed down from parents to offspring can be detrimental to survival in a rapidly changing world.

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According to Vladimir Dinets of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the problem arises when traditional habitats become disturbed or degraded.

Dinets had noticed that hand-reared whooping cranes, who are unable to learn habitat preferences from their parents, seem to do better following release than birds reared normally in the wild.

Not only are they less picky about the habitats they use – they are happier to use agricultural, suburban and roadside habitats, for example – but there is evidence that their mortality rates are lower than those of wild-reared birds.

Hand-rearing to break family traditions might prove a useful technique in other reintroductions.

“A truly revolutionary thing would be to try this approach with large predators – lynx reintroduction in Britain, for example, if it finally happens.”

Source The Condor

Find out about common cranes that have been reintroduced to the Somerset Levels.

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Read more wildlife news in BBC Wildlife Magazine.