Date: June 5, 2017
Source: FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Most bird chicks need parental care to survive. In biparental species the chicks have greater chances of success if both parents participate in this task, especially under hostile situations. An international team of scientists has revealed that when temperatures rise, males and females in pairs of plovers shift incubation more frequently.
Climate change causes ecological variation and affects the lives of animals. The ever-earlier springs and later autumns caused by rising temperatures cause changes to animals' physiology, breeding seasons and even population distributions. However, little is still known about how animals behave in response to these disturbances.
A team of scientists, working in collaboration with the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC), has studied the influence of climate change on incubation in plovers (Charadrius spp.), a genus of shorebirds spread over six continents, with a total of 33 species.
Many plover species nest on the ground in sites where there is no plant cover to detect more easily approaching predators, but where their nests receive direct sunlight.
"This can represent a significant challenge," as indicated by Juan A. Amat, a researcher at the EBD and one of the authors of the study, which was published recently in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.
The scientist adds that the situation can become complicated for birds in the middle of the day, "when incubating adults may not be able to tolerate the high temperatures." Typically, the optimum temperature adults provide for embryonic development is 35-39 ºC.