Warming blamed for bird breeding errors

May 04, 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: France increases Reunion shark fishing after surfer death

Related Stories

'Map spam' puts Google in awkward place

15 hours ago

Google was re-evaluating its user-edited online map system Friday after the latest embarrassing incident—an image of an Android mascot urinating on an Apple logo.

Recommended for you

York's anti-malarial plant given Chinese approval

20 hours ago

A new hybrid plant used in anti-malarial drug production, developed by scientists at the University of York's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), is now registered as a new variety in China.

The appeal of being anti-GMO

Apr 24, 2015

A team of Belgian philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions ...

Micro fingers for arranging single cells

Apr 24, 2015

Functional analysis of a cell, which is the fundamental unit of life, is important for gaining new insights into medical and pharmaceutical fields. For efficiently studying cell functions, it is essential ...

User comments : 0

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.