On the functional extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) was a social breeder, and it has been suggested that the species experienced functional extinction, defined as a total reproductive failure, prior to its actual extinction in the early years of the 20th century. We applied a novel randomization test based on the relative times of the most recent egg- and skin-specimen sightings (i.e., recorded date of specimen collection) to test for functional extinction. For a total of 6 eggs and 27 skins, the observed significance level was 0.38, which indicated that the species did not become functionally extinct. Thus, proposals to reverse its rapid decline in the late 19th century could have been successful.

publication date

  • October 2017