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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Warming temperatures may cause birds to shrink

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January 24, 2018 American Ornithological Society Publications Office read full ScienceDaily article here

Biologists have known for a long time that animals living in colder climates tend to have larger bodies, supposedly as an adaptation to reduce heat loss. However, a new study shows that this trend in birds might actually be due to the effects of high temperatures during development — raising new alarms about how populations might be affected by global warming...

….”If variation in body size is linked directly or indirectly to adapting to different climates, then body size could be useful for monitoring the extent to which bird populations are capable of adapting rapidly to changing climates,” says Andrew. “Our work on this common species helps us to understand the adaptive responses of birds to a changing climate and their constraints, and this fundamental knowledge will help future workers and managers focus their work on other species and potentially identify those species most at risk from climate change.“…

Samuel C. Andrew, Monica Awasthy, Amanda D. Griffith, Shinichi Nakagawa, Simon C. Griffith. Clinal variation in avian body size is better explained by summer maximum temperatures during development than by cold winter temperatures. The Auk, 2018; 135 (2): 206 DOI: 10.1642/AUK-17-129.1

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