Jan 052017
 

Migrating birds are responding to the effects of climate change by arriving at their breeding grounds earlier as global temperatures rise, research has found.

The University of Edinburgh study, which looked at hundreds of species across five continents, found that birds are reaching their summer breeding grounds on average about one day earlier per degree of increasing global temperature.

The main reason birds take flight is changing seasonal temperatures and food availability. The time they reach their summer breeding grounds is significant, because arriving at the wrong time, even by a few days, may cause them to miss out on vital resources such as food and nesting places. This in turn affects the timing of offspring hatching and their chances of survival.

The research included species that travel huge distances, such as the swallow and pied flycatcher, as well as those with shorter migrations, such as the lapwing and pied wagtail. British swallows fly through western France, across the Pyrenees, down eastern Spain into Morocco, and across the Sahara, to spend their winter in South Africa from around September or October.

Wild geese in flight. Photo: R. Parmiggiani

Migrating swallows can cover 200 miles a day at speeds of 17-22 miles per hour, with a maximum flight speed of 35mph.

The pied flycatcher, a bird slightly smaller than a house sparrow, is a summer visitor to the UK and breeds mainly in western areas of the country, before spending the winter in west Africa.

The northern lapwing, which is about 30cm long from beak to tail, can be seen across the British Isles throughout the year, favouring farmland, wetland and meadows during the breeding season and pasture and ploughed fields during the winter months.

The University of Edinburgh researchers examined records of migrating bird species dating back almost 300 years. They drew upon records from amateur enthusiasts and scientists, including notes from 19th-century American naturalist Henry David Thoreau.

They hope their study, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology and supported by the Natural Environment Research Council, will help scientists better predict how different species will respond to environmental changes. Long-distance migrants, which are shown to be less responsive to rising temperatures, may suffer most as other birds gain advantage by arriving at breeding grounds ahead of them.

Takuji Usui, of the university’s school of biological sciences, said: “Many plant and animal species are altering the timing of activities associated with the start of spring, such as flowering and breeding.

“Now we have detailed insights into how the timing of migration is changing and how this change varies across species. These insights may help us predict how well migratory birds keep up with changing conditions on their breeding grounds.”

This article was first published by The Guardian on 28 Dec 2016.

 

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

 

 

Share on social media:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar
trackback

[…] Origen: Climate change driving birds to migrate early, research reveals » Focusing on Wildlife […]

wpDiscuz

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should the export of elephants to China be banned? [2000 Views]
  2. POLL: Should the slaughter of badgers be allowed to continue? [1376 Views]
  3. POLL: Should the slaughter of Borneo’s pygmy elephants be stopped? [1086 Views]
  4. New year, new birds: 10 newly-recognised species [1041 Views]
  5. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [924 Views]
  6. POLL: Should Arab sheikhs be allowed to hunt bustards? [912 Views]
  7. New Estimate: There are Over 18,000 Bird Species on Earth [716 Views]
  8. POLL: Should neonicotinoid pesticides be banned to save our bees? [710 Views]
  9. Kissing cows are to blame for bovine TB – so stop this bloody badger cull [693 Views]
  10. POLL: Should orca entertainment shows be universally banned? [693 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [41995 Views]
  2. POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16711 Views]
  3. POLL: Should the annual Canadian seal hunt be banned? [13925 Views]
  4. POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [13714 Views]
  5. POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11108 Views]
  6. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [9813 Views]
  7. POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8542 Views]
  8. POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8295 Views]
  9. POLL: Should black bears be killed for Royal Guards’ fur caps? [8033 Views]
  10. POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7356 Views]