Despite denials from the current Administration in Washington D.C., climate change is real and is impacting life on Earth. According to research conducted by Edinburgh University, one such impact can be found in the migration patterns of birds.
The study looked at the migration patterns of hundreds of different species of birds from 5 different continents and the results were the same for each species no matter where their habitat was found: birds are migrating earlier and reaching their summer breeding grounds an average of one day earlier per one degree rise in global temperature.
This is significant in that birds that reach their summer breeding grounds at the wrong time could result in their missing out on crucial resources such as nesting sites and food. It also impacts the hatching time and survival rate of their young.
The study found that the birds most impacted by climate change are the species that travel very long migration distances. By the time they reach their summer breeding grounds, the species who travel only a short distance arrive earlier which gives the short distance fliers an advantage of the most food and best nesting sites.
The findings of the research were gained by studying documents from experts, scientists and amateur nature lovers from the past 300 years. They even studied the writings of naturalist Henry David Thoreau.
Researchers are hopeful that this study will help scientists gain useful insight into how many species, not just birds, will respond to changes in global temperatures. Takuji Usui, of the school of biological sciences at Edinburgh University, stated:
“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.”
Research for the study was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council and published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.