New Publication Shows Local Birds Adapting to Warmer Springs
Birds in western Pennsylvania are adapting
to climate change by breeding soon after they migrate, according to a
new manuscript published by researchers at Carnegie Museum of Natural
Researchers at Carnegie Museum of Natural History publish findings in PLOS ONE.
Using long-term data sets collected at Powdermill Nature Reserve, the
museum’s environmental research center in Rector, Pennsylvania,
researchers Molly McDermott, a post-doctoral data analyst, and Luke
DeGroote, the avian research coordinator at Powdermill Nature Reserve,
correlated warmer weather to changes in birds’ breeding habits.
Previous studies established that birds in western Pennsylvania are
migrating earlier, and McDermott and DeGroote demonstrated that birds
are breeding earlier in warmer summers and over time in a paper
published last year.
Their most recent manuscript establishes that birds are initiating breeding more quickly after arrival.
Their manuscript, “Linking phenological events in migratory passerines
with a changing climate: 50 years in the Laurel Highlands of
Pennsylvania,” was published in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed journal, on
April 12, 2017.
“I think this is a story of hope but also a warning,” said DeGroote.
“Many species are adapting, which is good news, but the window of time
that birds are using to catch up—the time from arrival to nest
building—is closing. That short-term adaptability, which scientists
refer to as plasticity, may one day break.”
McDermott and DeGroote used long-term data from the bird banding lab at
Powdermill Nature Reserve, which has tracked bird migration for more
than 50 years, making it one of the longest-running bird banding
facilities in the country.
“The data set collected in the past 50 years at Powdermill is an
invaluable tool for researchers to observe changes in bird populations
and behaviors,” said John Wenzel, director of Powdermill Nature Reserve.
“Molly and Luke’s research is an excellent use of this information that
gives insight into how species in our area are adapting to change.”
This is the second paper published by McDermott and DeGroote that
examines how birds are adapting to a changing climate. Their previous
research was featured on Science Friday and in Anthropocene Magazine.
This research was supported by grants from Colcom Foundation, Laurel Foundation, and private donors.
The manuscript can be found at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0174247.
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