Some birds may temporarily benefit from climate change, researchers say

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Climate change affects everyone, and everything, in different ways. Whether human or animal, adaptation to a warming environment is crucial. According to new research published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, some bird species may thrive in this new environment.

Researchers began studying the Prothonotary Warblers in 1994. Over the span of 20 years, they kept track of over 2,000 nesting female warblers. They recorded when they laid their first egg and how many eggs were laid over the entire season, mid-April to early August.

They also kept track of local temperature trends and compared those observations to the global temperatures compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They found that local temps and global temps trended similarly.

When comparing those temperatures to nesting patterns, researchers found that in warmer Aprils, the birds tended to lay their eggs earlier in the spring. On average, the warblers produced more offspring over the entire season, as starting earlier meant more time to reproduce.

Meaning, as temperatures continue to rise as a result of climate change, the warblers may actually see a temporary population boom. Other animals, meanwhile, are seeing a decline due to climate change.

Although encouraged to see the flexibiltiy of the species, researcher worry the birds aren’t out of the woods quite yet. A mismatch between the timing of nesting and food availability would hurt long term reproduction.

Additionally, changes in the environment, like the drying of the wetlands the warblers call home, could increase the exposure of their nests and young to predators.

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