Rapid climatic changes refer to long term shifts in temperature, which cause global warming. Climatic changes occur naturally or due to human activities, which worsen the natural atmosphere. Researchers predict that humans may experience a sudden rise or drift in global temperature within a short span, which will lead to significant distractions for all living organisms. Hence in this scenario, both plants and animals need to adapt or acclimatize to these sudden temperature changes, or there may be enormous consequences.
Effects of Temperature on Birds
Usually, some birds will migrate from one place to another to find suitable habitats, and for these birds, temperature changes won’t be a big challenge. But when it comes to tropical bird species, they won’t migrate, and throughout the year, they will stay in a small area. If the temperature becomes too cold or hot or cannot find any food source because of temperature changes, it will be a massive challenge for tropical birds to survive.
Tropical birds in mountain areas need to fly to higher altitudes, but their little body may not suit to flee to higher altitudes. Tropical birds living in deserts or dry may lose their body weight because they don’t have enough water to drink. Some birds like the hummingbird, regal sunbird, and various manakins species are vulnerable to climatic changes. Not only birds, but sudden climatic change will also always negatively affect any living organisms and will create significant obstacles ahead. Various studies are still going on to know all possible effects of climate change on animals, which ultimately help us find a better solution for saving them from any vulnerable situations.
Shrinkage of Body in Tropical Birds Due to Climatic Changes
For decades’ scientists have spent much time measuring birds from different climatic conditions; notably, they conducted research in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. In birds, they compared various specified species, and a team of scientists discovered a more progressive change, i.e. shrinking the bird population.
For several years, a massive number of tropical birds have become smaller in size, various species in birds have been reduced by nearly 1 – 2 % of their total body weight on average in a decade. Surprisingly, some species of birds have acquired longer wings. In that specified period, the climate is hotter and more variable. Based on some other studies, researchers find out that similar shrinkage of the body is observed in migratory birds also. Scientists suggested this shrinkage as “a universal phenomenon” by sighting the same patterns in the various bird species.
One study was conducted in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, but various similar studies revealed that the body size of birds and temperature are interlinked. If the climate is colder, the body becomes bigger, and if birds experience a warmer climate, their body size would shrink to help birds off-load heat better.
Research studies conducted on the North American migratory birds on various species have also revealed that birds are becoming smaller due to the warmer climatic conditions. Climatic changes are the primary culprit, but different possible factors may also play a significant role in it. Other potential factors like migrators may suffer from external factors such as lack of food, damaged habitats such as their nests or surroundings, etc.
Ecology researchers, along with their team, wanted to examine if birds of different species which don’t migrate and stay in one place have also been shrinking or not? This research study has taken place in an undisturbed part of the Amazon. They took data from 30 years, and research was done with more than 11,000 individual birds of 77 different species. The study was conducted with varying lifestyles like some birds who live on high trees, and some live on lower trees, besides some others on the ground. They took different measurements like the length of wings, overall body weight etc. They also took temperature data of that specified region.
Based on some findings, all the gathered species became lighter over the period, and they showed nearly loss of body mass is almost 0.1 – 2 % noted in every decade. The significant reasons may be; the selected region is getting warmer over the period, short-term climatic changes, particularly hot or dry seasons, may have adverse effects on species. The conclusion revealed that body shrinkage might cause by more warm temperatures.
Some of the points that are to be noted are that the dry season is more stressful for birds, the downfall of their body weight is mainly in hot and dry seasons. Because of heat stress, birds are becoming smaller and smaller over the period. The only way is to adapt to different climatic conditions, or else bodies might differently grow because of warmer temperatures. Not only are birds’ bodies shrinking, but also the reduced number of birds might also happen.
Fast Changing Scenario
Usually, tropical birds are more sensitive and vulnerable to environmental changes, particularly birds in temperate regions that experience extreme drift and the sudden change from one climatic condition to another, from summertime to wintertime and vice versa. Particularly during hot and peek summers, birds usually use water to adjust their body temperatures to handle the tropical heat. During hot summers, birds tolerate high temperatures and constraints regarding food availability. Stress from the external environment may also affect their average body mass.
Rapid climatic changes and sudden drift in temperatures is not what is about to happen in future—and it is already happening in our present lives. We can witness that several adverse events are already happening in our day-to-day lives because of these climatic changes. Animals, humans and plants are the victims of such climatic changes causing direct impact. Sudden drift in climatic changes may occur naturally or by human involvement. Hence reduce the burning of fossil fuels which ultimately produces heat-trapping gases, and ensure stopping deforestation. One has to recognise that every living being in our ecosystem are essential, and they are exposed to the risk of extinction due to climate changes. It is the need of the hour to keep these factors into consideration.