Seed-eaters particularly vulnerable to temperature shifts
Date: December 19, 2018
Source: Washington State University
The breeding seasons of wild house finches are shifting due to climate change, a Washington State University researcher has found.
The effect of climate change on the breeding season of birds has been documented before, but in a limited context. Heather Watts, an avian physiologist, reported her finding in Ibis, the International Journal of Avian Science.
"We know that many birds are breeding earlier as temperatures get warmer," Watts said. "Almost all of those studies are on birds that eat insects or other animals. What we don't know is if seed-eating birds are shifting the timing of breeding too."
Studying seed-eaters is important because it can help clarify how temperature is affecting breeding habits. It is still uncertain if temperature is having a direct effect on the animals or if it causes indirect effects like shifts in the timing of plant growth. Previous studies suggest that plant-eating animals are likely to experience stronger effects due to climate change compared to those that eat other foods because of these indirect influences.