Climate affecting avian breeding, study shows

Milder winters have led to earlier growing seasons and noticeable effects on the breeding habits of some predatory birds….Results show that over the period of 1992-2015, the greenness on irrigated lands occurred earlier because of earlier planting of crops following relatively warm winters, but there has not been a change in green-up on non-irrigated lands. Kestrels seemed to “track” the changes in irrigated lands and were nesting 15 days earlier than they used to nest. Although this might not seem like much of a shift, the earliest nesting kestrels can now raise two broods per year instead of one….

The study is one of the first concrete examples of an association between human adaptation to climate change and shifts in breeding cycles of wildlife. “Moving forward, we need to consider that animals will be affected by both climate change and our own adaptations to a warming planet,” McClure said….

Shawn H. Smith, Karen Steenhof, Christopher J.W. McClure, Julie A. Heath. Earlier nesting by generalist predatory bird is associated with human responses to climate change. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12604

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