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Climate change turning Aussie birds smaller August 13, 2009

Posted by honestclimate in Discussions.
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Climate change turning Aussie birds smaller: study

Via YahooNews, August 13, 2009

MELBOURNE (AFP) – Australian birds have shrunk over the past century because of global warming, scientists have found.

Using museum specimens, researchers measured the size of eight bird species and discovered they were getting smaller in an apparent response to climate change.

Australian National University (ANU) biologist Janet Gardner said modern birds were up to four percent smaller than their forebears, a discrepancy she said was statistically significant.

“Birds, like other animals, tend to be smaller in warmer climates, because smaller bodies lose heat more quickly than larger bodies,” she said.

“As a result, individuals of the same species tend to be larger near the poles and smaller near the equator.”

She said the study showed that modern birds in Sydney had shrunk to the same size as those previously found in sub-tropical Brisbane, some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) north and seven degrees of latitude closer to the equator.

Gardner said the study, published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, found that the birds appeared to be adapting to global warming by becoming smaller to minimise heat stress.

The bird species examined by the researchers from the ANU and government science body CSIRO included the grey-crowned babbler, the yellow-rumped thornbill and the variegated fairy-wren.


1. Klem - August 13, 2009

That’s great! Birds adapt as the earth’s climate changes. But scientists still must show that climate change is the fault of humans. They have never established that. So this study concludes that birds adapt to changes in climate that’s all. Fantastic study, but there is nothing new here, we already knew this.

Simply implying that humans are to blame does not make it so.

2. Mike Davis - August 13, 2009

Natural evolution to adapt to the natural changing climate. The question that comes to mind: How long have they been streamlining/ getting smaller? This will allow us to know how long it will take to adapt to future climate changes. This might also be a sign of those breeds being more efficient now as they no longer need to consume the amounts of food to support the larger bodies. This could also have to do with less environment or larger populations of these birds in the same amount of area.

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