Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate change will improve survival rates of British bird -- the long-tailed tit

Date:
March 24, 2014
Source:
University of Sheffield
Summary:
Climate change may be bad news for billions, but scientists have discovered one unlikely winner -- a tiny British bird, the long-tailed tit. Like other small animals that live for only two or three years, these birds had until now been thought to die in large numbers during cold winters. But new research suggests that warm weather during spring instead holds the key to their survival.

Climate change will improve survival rates of British bird - the long-tailed tit.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Sheffield

Climate change may be bad news for billions, but scientists at the University of Sheffield have discovered one unlikely winner -- a tiny British bird, the long-tailed tit.

Like other small animals that live for only two or three years, these birds had until now been thought to die in large numbers during cold winters. But new research suggests that warm weather during spring instead holds the key to their survival.

The findings come from a 20-year study of long-tailed tits run by Professor Ben Hatchwell at the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences. The recent work is led by PhD student Philippa Gullett and Dr Karl Evans from Sheffield, in collaboration with Rob Robinson from the British Trust for Ornithology.

"During spring, birds must work their socks off to raise their chicks," said Philippa Gullett.

"For most small birds that live for only two or three years, not raising any chicks one year is a disaster. They might only get one more chance, so they can't afford to fail."

No surprise then that these birds are willing to invest everything and risk death if it means their young survive. The surprise is that weather makes all the difference. The research discovered that birds trying to breed in warm and dry springs have much better chances of surviving to the next year -- a novel result that counters common assumptions about the cause of death for small birds.

"What seems to be going on is that the tits try to raise their chicks at any cost," added Ms Gullett.

"If it's cold and wet in spring, that makes their job much tougher. Food is harder to find; eggs and chicks are at risk of getting cold. The result is that by the end of the breeding season, the adult birds are exhausted."

The study found no real effect of winter weather in recent years on adult survival, however cold and wet autumns were associated with a higher death rate.

"We're not saying that birds never die in winter -- in harsh years there are bound to be some fatalities," explained Dr Karl Evans.

"However, it seems that in most years autumn weather plays a bigger role, perhaps acting as a filter that weeds out weaker birds before the real winter hits."

Although autumns may get wetter in the coming years, any increase in mortality is likely to be offset by the benefits of warmer breeding seasons, when more benign conditions reduce the costs of breeding.

Dr Evans added: "Looking ahead to the future, our data suggests that every single plausible climate change scenario will lead to a further increase in long-tailed survival rates. While many species struggle to adjust to climate change, these delightful birds seem likely to be winners."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Sheffield. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Philippa Gullett, Karl L. Evans, Robert A. Robinson, Ben J. Hatchwell. Climate change and annual survival in a temperate passerine: partitioning seasonal effects and predicting future patterns. Oikos, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2013.00620.x

Cite This Page:

University of Sheffield. "Climate change will improve survival rates of British bird -- the long-tailed tit." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140324090322.htm>.
University of Sheffield. (2014, March 24). Climate change will improve survival rates of British bird -- the long-tailed tit. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140324090322.htm
University of Sheffield. "Climate change will improve survival rates of British bird -- the long-tailed tit." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140324090322.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins