How are songbirds in western Pennsylvania adapting to climate change?
Fairly well according to Carnegie Museum of Natural History researchers Molly McDermott and Luke DeGroote, who observed adaptations in a recent paper titled “Global Change Biology.” Their work was covered in Anthropocene Magazine and referenced on NPR’s Science Friday this month.
Using 53 years’ worth of data collected at Powdermill Nature Reserve, Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s environmental research center in Rector Pa., DeGroote and McDermott observed that several species of songbirds have adapted their breeding cycles to warmer weather and earlier springs.
“I think of it as a very hopeful note. We can think of it as mother nature’s resilience, giving us a chance to be doing everything else we could be doing to help birds,” freelance writer Brandon Keim said on Science Friday about his Anthropocene Magazine article on McDermott and DeGroote’s paper.
However, DeGroote says that despite the note of optimism, there’s also an underlying word of caution.
“Because there is a disconnect between plant phenology and migratory timing, there may come a time when birds are no longer able to continue to ‘catch up’ after arrival by breeding earlier,” DeGroote said.