Monday, October 31, 2011

Settled science: Models say warming should cause birds to get smaller, measurements show birds getting bigger; CO2 blamed

Bigger birds in central California, courtesy of global climate change
SAN FRANCISCO -- Birds are getting bigger in central California, and that was a big surprise for Rae Goodman and her colleagues.

Goodman uncovered the trend while working as a graduate student for San Francisco State University biologist Gretchen LeBuhn, analyzing data from thousands of birds caught and released each year at two sites near San Francisco Bay and the Point Reyes National Seashore.

The SF State scientists, working with researchers from PRBO Conservation Science and the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory who collected the data, found that birds' wings have grown longer and birds are increasing in mass over the last 27 to 40 years.

What's making the birds bigger? The researchers think that the trend is due to climate change, but their findings put a twist in the usual thinking about climate change and body size. A well-known ecological rule, called Bergmann's Rule, states that animals tend to be larger at higher latitudes. One reason for this rule might be that larger animals conserve body heat better, allowing them to thrive in the generally colder climate of higher latitudes.

1 comment:

Rycke Brown said...

Maybe the plants that the birds eat are more productive due to increased CO2 and temperature, and they are better fed.

Neither warmer climate nor increased CO2 are a bad thing.

But CO2 is not blamed; climate change is, though no mechanism is given here, and they don't say what kind of change it has been. Maybe it's been more precipitation in the summer.

Yours in ordered liberty,