According to a scientific study, climate change has caused physical changes in Amazon rainforest birds over the last four decades.
Read further for details.
Hotter, Drier Conditions caused changes
New research has revealed further the effects of climate change on earthly life. Now, climate change has impacted even the most remote sections of the Amazon. This has been the case even though these areas have remained relatively untouched by humans.
Warmer, drier conditions have reduced the body size of rainforest birds while increasing their wingspans over the last four decades. On Friday, a study published in the Science Advances journal revealed this discovery.
Over the course of 40 years of fieldwork, Jirinec and his colleagues analyzed data on over 15,000 birds. They caught the birds and measured, weighed, and tagged them in captivity. They discovered that almost all of the birds had lost weight since the 1980s. Most species lost 2% of their body weight every decade. This implied that a bird species that weighed 30 grams in the 1980s now weighs an average of 27.6 grams. The researchers also used a wide area of the jungle for data collection, not just a single location. The results from such a large sample size further indicate that the phenomenon is widespread.
Noticeable Changes in response to Energy Constraints
The researchers looked at 77 species, whose habitats spanned from the cool, gloomy forest floor to the bright, warmer mid-story — the forest’s main layer of vegetation.
The birds in the mid-story’s upper reaches experienced the most noticeable alterations in body weight and wing size. these birds, in particular, fly more and are exposed to heat for longer periods of time. The researchers theorized that this was a response to energy constraints, such as a decrease in the availability of fruit and insect supplies. Temperature stress could also be one of the causal factors.
“The Amazon birds are fairly fine-tuned,” said co-author Philip Stouffer of Louisiana State University, “so when everyone in the population is a few of grams smaller, it’s substantial”.
It’s unclear how well they’ll cope with growing hotter and drier conditions in the future. Last month, the team behind Friday’s report published a study demonstrating a severe loss in sensitive bird species in the Amazon, as a result of climate change. The team noticed this loss particularly for those species that hunt for insects on the forest floor. The authors also mentioned that it is likely that other unidentified species around the world are under comparable stresses.
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