Scientific Journal of the BirdLife Hungary

A Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület tudományos folyóirata

Ornis Hungarica. vol.31(1). (2023) p.111-125.

Diversity of cranial shape in European Woodpecker species (Picidae)
Tibor Pecsics, Martin Segesdi, Sándor Faragó, Gerard Gorman & Tibor Csörgő

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The woodpecker family (Picidae) includes numerous species that vary in size and plumage colouration, but which share many easily recognisable external features. These birds possess pronounced anatomical adaptions that enable them to exploit arboreal habitats and live in niches that are inaccessible to most other birds. The aim of this study was to increase our knowledge on the relationships between skull shape, habitat preference, pecking abilities and foraging habits of 10 European woodpecker species. A geometric morphometric approach was used to analyse two-dimensional cranial landmarks. We used principal component (PC) analyses on those measurements that may be related to habitat preference and foraging habits. The PCs resulted in descriptions of the relative length and width of the bill, variation in its relative size, orientation of the nostrils variation in the elongation of the neurocranium, the relative size and position of the palatine bone, length of the rostrum, and the thickness of the mandible bone. The analysis showed and confirmed the presence of some cranial elements that are strongly associated with habitat preference, pecking behaviour and excavation abilities.