The broiler chicken as a signal of a human reconfigured biosphere

Bennett, C.E., Thomas, R., Williams, M., Zalasiewicz, J., Edgeworth, M., Miller, H., Coles, B., Foster, A., Burton, E.J. ORCID: 0000-0003-2784-6922 and Marume, U., 2018. The broiler chicken as a signal of a human reconfigured biosphere. Royal Society Open Science, 5 (12): 180325. ISSN 2054-5703

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Abstract

Changing patterns of human resource use and food consumption have profoundly impacted the Earth's biosphere. Until now, no individual taxa have been suggested as distinct and characteristic new morphospecies representing this change. Here we show that the domestic broiler chicken is one such potential marker. Human-directed changes in breeding, diet and farming practices demonstrate at least a doubling in body size from the late medieval period to the present in domesticated chickens, and an up to fivefold increase in body mass since the mid-twentieth century. Moreover, the skeletal morphology, pathology, bone geochemistry and genetics of modern broilers are demonstrably different to those of their ancestors. Physical and numerical changes to chickens in the second half of the twentieth century, i.e. during the putative Anthropocene Epoch, have been the most dramatic, with large increases in individual bird growth rate and population sizes. Broiler chickens, now unable to survive without human intervention, have a combined mass exceeding that of all other birds on Earth; this novel morphotype symbolizes the unprecedented human reconfiguration of the Earth's biosphere.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Royal Society Open Science
Creators: Bennett, C.E., Thomas, R., Williams, M., Zalasiewicz, J., Edgeworth, M., Miller, H., Coles, B., Foster, A., Burton, E.J. and Marume, U.
Publisher: Royal Society Publishing
Date: 12 December 2018
Volume: 5
Number: 12
ISSN: 2054-5703
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1098/rsos.180325DOI
Rights: © 2018 the authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 18 Dec 2018 10:56
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2018 10:56
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/35368

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