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: Hungry birds as climate change drives food 'mismatch'

Related Stories

Small birds' vision: Not so sharp but superfast

March 18, 2016

One may expect a creature that darts around its habitat to be capable of perceiving rapid changes as well. Yet birds are famed more for their good visual acuity. Joint research by Uppsala University, Stockholm University ...

Food security and why Christmas dinner is in peril

December 22, 2016

The Victorians introduced many of the traditions we now associate with the festive season. Along with Christmas cards, crackers, mince pies and Santa Claus himself, they are responsible for the modern day Christmas dinner. ...

Recommended for you

Researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

December 11, 2018

A new computational model developed by researchers from The City College of New York and Yale gives a clearer picture of the structure and mechanics of soft, shape-changing cells that could provide a better understanding ...

Field-responsive mechanical metamaterials (FRMMs)

December 11, 2018

In a recent study published in Science Advances, materials scientists Julie A. Jackson and colleagues presented a new class of materials architecture called field-responsive mechanical metamaterials (FRMM). The FRMMs exhibit ...

Cosmonauts to examine mystery hole on ISS spacewalk

December 11, 2018

Russian cosmonauts were to carry out a spacewalk Tuesday to examine a mystery hole in a Soyuz spacecraft docked on the International Space Station that a Moscow official suggested could have been deliberate sabotage.

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.