1. Ecology
  2. Evolutionary Biology
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The Natural History of Model Organisms: The house sparrow in the service of basic and applied biology

  1. Haley E Hanson  Is a corresponding author
  2. Noreen S Mathews
  3. Mark E Hauber
  4. Lynn B Martin
  1. Global and Planetary Health, University of South Florida, United States
  2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States
Feature Article
Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e52803 doi: 10.7554/eLife.52803
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1 figure, 1 video and 2 tables


Adult and nestling house sparrows.

(A) Female house sparrow. (B) Male house sparrow. (C) Nestling house sparrows. (D) Male house sparrow provisioning nestlings. Image Credits: All images taken by Janneke Case in Tampa, Florida, United States, in 2019.


Animation 1
House sparrow distribution from 1800 to 2019.

Image Credit: Haley E Hanson, Noreen S Mathews, and Jaime E Zolik. For sources used, please refer to https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11915955.v1.


Table 1
Global house sparrow introduction or translocation events by region.

Introduction and translocation events include both purposeful and inadvertent release of any number of birds from all subspecies, successful or unsuccessful. We list a range instead of a single number because of discrepancies among published reports. For sources used, please refer to https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11915955.v1.

RegionNumber of introductions or translocations
North America135–136
South America32–35+
Table 2
House sparrows available in museum collections.

Listed are the five largest house sparrow museum collections, the number of specimens present in each and the time of specimen sampling. Data was compiled from all collections present in the VertNet database (Constable et al., 2010). For search terms and the full table, please refer to https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11915955.v1.

CollectionNumber of specimens
University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute (KU)12,830
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)7,654
Field Museum of Natural History (FMNH)1,974
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, UC Berkeley (MVZ)1,888
American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)1,776
Specimens collected before 19001,597
Specimens collected between 1900–19507,460
Specimens collected after 195029,401

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