Hot temperatures could mean swan song for tropical birds

May 14, 2018, University of Queensland
Hot temperatures could mean swan song for tropical birds
Credit: University of Queensland

Non-migratory songbirds could be under threat from a warming climate, according to the findings of a 15-year study.

The University of Queensland's Dr. Brad Woodworth, who led the study with researchers from the University of Windsor and University of Guelph in Canada, said the research showed that hot weather reduced the survival of tropical birds.

"Our study suggests that further increases in temperature may threaten the persistence of tropical animals accustomed to hot environments – unless they are able to shift to cooler areas," Dr. Woodworth said.

The research team studied a population of rufous-and-white wrens living in the Guanacaste Conservation Area in Costa Rica.

Each year, they captured birds in mist nets, gave each animal a distinctive combination of coloured leg bands, and then surveyed the population to see which birds were still alive and which had perished.

"We found that wren survival did indeed vary with climate – so when temperatures were high, the wrens suffered higher mortality," he said.

The forests of north-western Costa Rica experience two seasons—a from December to May, and a wet season with as much as three metres of rain from May to December.

Hot temperatures could mean swan song for tropical birds
Credit: University of Queensland

"Survival was particularly sensitive to conditions during the dry , and it was particularly pronounced for males," Dr. Woodworth said.

"Females showed lower survival than males overall, but female survival was not heavily influenced by temperature variation the way it was for males."

University of Windsor researcher Professor Dan Mennill said most of the world's birds, and most of Earth's biodiversity, were concentrated in the tropics.

"But studies of how climate influences animal survival have focused primarily on migratory birds or that live in temperate environments," he said.

The study is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Explore further: Wintering warblers choose agriculture over forest

More information: Bradley K. Woodworth et al. Hot temperatures during the dry season reduce survival of a resident tropical bird, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0176

Related Stories

Wintering warblers choose agriculture over forest

May 2, 2018

Effective conservation for long-distance migrants requires knowing what's going on with them year-round—not just when they're in North America during the breeding season. A new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications ...

Winter sets up breeding success: study

March 20, 2017

For migratory birds, breeding grounds are where the action is. But a new study by University of Guelph biologists is among the first to suggest that the number of songbirds breeding during spring and summer depends mostly ...

Birds migrate away from diseases

April 11, 2018

In a unique study, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have mapped the origins of migratory birds. They used the results to investigate and discover major differences in the immune systems of sedentary and migratory ...

Recommended for you

Houseplants could one day monitor home health

July 20, 2018

In a perspective published in the July 20 issue of Science, Neal Stewart and his University of Tennessee coauthors explore the future of houseplants as aesthetically pleasing and functional sirens of home health.

LC10 – the neuron that tracks fruit flies

July 20, 2018

Many animals rely on vision to detect, locate, and track moving objects. Male Drosophila fruit flies primarily use visual cues to stay close to a female and to direct their courtship song towards her. Scientists from the ...

Putting bacteria to work

July 20, 2018

The idea of bacteria as diverse, complex perceptive entities that can hunt prey in packs, remember past experiences and interact with the moods and perceptions of their human hosts sounds like the plot of some low-budget ...

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.