American birds have shrunk to keep warm from global warming

(ORDO NEWS) — The body weight of North American birds has decreased due to warming.

Climate change disrupts the traditional habitats of many animals. First of all, creatures that occupy a unique ecological niche in a certain zone, like corals, suffer from this, but even relatively “universal” animals like insectivorous birds that can migrate are experiencing the negative effects of warming.

Morgan Tingley of the University of California and his colleagues set out to find out how the migratory birds of the temperate zone of North America have changed due to warming.

To do this, they studied 105 species of birds, having studied a total of 250 thousand individuals. Only adult males older than one year were taken into account, so as not to confuse underweight birds with young ones.

It turned out that the body size of the birds did decrease with time. The American tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) lost 2.8 percent in body weight over thirty years, the wandering thrush (Turdus migratorius) by 1.2 percent, and the downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) by 2.2 percent. On average, for all species, the decrease in body weight was 0.56 percent.

The most noticeable tendency to decrease in weight was in birds in southern latitudes. This suggests that it is the high ambient temperature that provokes morphological changes in species.

This fits into existing ecological models. The smaller the bird, the greater its body area relative to volume and the easier it is for it to dissipate heat. Thus, small sizes save birds from overheating.

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