Metric data of 6th century CE pigeons from the Negev Desert, Israel, are employed to test competing hypotheses on flock management strategies: that directed selection for size or shape took place under intensive management; or, alternatively, that stabilizing selection was a stronger determinant of size and shape under extensive management conditions. The results of the analysis support the second hypothesis by demonstrating that the Byzantine Negev pigeons were like wild pigeon (Columba livia) in shape, albeit small-sized. The inferred extensive management system is then discussed in the context of pigeon domestication and human micro-ecologies in marginal regions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by European Research Council under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (648427 to GBO), https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/ horizon2020/; Israel Science Foundation (340–14 to GBO), https://www.isf.org.il/; National Geographic Society (8857–10 to GBO), www. nationalgeographic.org/grants. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The study was conducted in Shivta and Saadon, with help from the Israel Nature and Park Authority. This project has received funding from the European Research Council under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (648427), the Israel Science Foundation (340–14) and the National Geographic Society (8857–10). We wish to thank the Bird Division of the British Museum of Natural History in Tring (UK) and for the curator Judith White for granting us access to the pigeon collection and for facilitating our work. We would also like to thank Prof. Avi Gopher and Dr. Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and to Dr. Deirdre Fulton of Baylor College for allowing us to measure pigeon bones from Qumran and Ramat Rahel. Anat Regev-Gisis kindly helped with the graphic design.
© 2018 Marom et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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