Warming blamed for bird breeding errors

May 4, 2006

Netherlands researchers say climate change is leading birds to breed during periods of food shortages, causing population declines.

The study by scientists at Groningen University in Haren, Netherlands, centered on the migratory pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca. It found a large drop in bird population when prey and predator species vary in the rate at which they adapt to warmer conditions.

The pied flycatcher is a long-distance migratory bird, spending the spring breeding in the Netherlands, where caterpillars make up the bulk of its chicks' diet.

Lead author of the study, Christiaan Both, and colleagues looked at the effects earlier peaks in the caterpillar population, induced by higher temperatures, have had on the birds.

The researchers found pied flycatcher populations declined by approximately 90 percent in areas with the earliest food peaks, compared with 10 percent in areas with the latest food peaks. They attribute that decline to birds breeding during periods when food is scarce.

The authors suggest the mistiming is a result of the inability of the birds to adapt their rigid migratory journey to higher temperatures. The populations of other long-distance migrants might suffer similar effects, they added.

The study appears in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Behaviour study shows rats know how to repay kindness

Related Stories

Behaviour study shows rats know how to repay kindness

February 25, 2015

If I scratch your back and you scratch mine, then we're both better off as a result – so goes the principle of reciprocity, one of the most popular explanations for how co-operative behaviour has evolved. But what if one ...

River regulation influences land-living animals

February 28, 2013

Forest-living insects and spiders become less abundant and birds are adversely affected along regulated rivers. Three different studies by ecologists at Umeå University show that river regulation has a negative effect also ...

Hunger may inhibit defensive behavior

February 1, 2012

Most animals don't spend nearly as much time and energy defending nesting or mating sites against intruders outside the breeding season. That's a given.

Noisy youngsters pay the ultimate price

February 9, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Babies crying with hunger may attract annoyed looks from bystanders, but in the bird world noisily crying nestlings are likely to pay the ultimate price, according to the authors of a new study from The Australian ...

Recommended for you

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.