Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987 Aug;84(15):5506-10.

Behavioral feeding specialization in Pinaroloxias inornata, the "Darwin's Finch" of Cocos Island, Costa Rica.

Author information

  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-0027.


As a population, Cocos Finches exhibit a broad range of feeding behaviors spanning those of several families of birds on the mainland, while individuals feed as specialists year-round. Although this extreme intraspecific variability occurs as predicted in a tropical oceanic island environment, these specializations challenge contemporary ecological theory in that they are not attributable to individual differences in age, sex, gross morphology, or opportunistic exploitation of patchy resources. Instead, they appear to originate and be maintained behaviorally, possibly via observational learning. This phenomenon adds another direction to the evolutionary radiation of the Darwin's Finches and underscores the necessity for detailed behavioral and ecological studies at the individual level for understanding animal feeding systems and the causation of phenotypic variation.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center