Endangered North American butterfly fights back against climate change


This video is called The Endangered Quino Checkerspot Butterfly.

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered butterfly fights back against climate change

April 2014: The endangered Quino Checkerspot butterfly, found in Mexico and California, is defying climate change by adapting both its habitat and diet, a study has revealed.

The butterfly suffered dramatic population collapses during the last century along the southern edge of its range in Baja California as a result of climate change and agricultural and urban development.

But rather than heading toward extinction the butterfly has adapted to the changing climate by shifting to a higher altitude and changing its host plant to a completely new species.

Other species have been seen changing either habitat or diet to cope with a changing climate but the Quino Checkerspot may be amongst the first butterfly species to change both.

Professor Camille Parmesan from Plymouth University, explained:

“Quino today is one of the happy ‘surprises’, having managed to adapt to climate change by shifting its centre of abundance to higher elevation and onto a plant species that was not previously known to be a host.”

See also here. And here. And here.

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United States chickadees and climate change


This video from the USA is called Carolina Chickadee Sound.

From All About Birds blog in the USA:

Warming Temperatures Are Pushing Two Chickadee Species—and Their Hybrids—Northward

By victoria on Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The zone of overlap between two popular, closely related backyard birds is moving northward at a rate that matches warming winter temperatures, according to a study by researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Villanova University, and Cornell University. The research was published in Current Biology on Thursday, March 6, 2014.

In a narrow strip that runs across the eastern U.S., Carolina Chickadees from the south meet and interbreed with Black-capped Chickadees from the north. The new study finds that this hybrid zone has moved northward at a rate of 0.7 mile per year over the last decade. That’s fast enough that the researchers had to add an extra study site partway through their project in order to keep up.

“A lot of the time climate change doesn’t really seem tangible,” said lead author Scott Taylor, a postdoctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “But here are these common little backyard birds we all grew up with, and we’re seeing them moving northward on relatively short time scales.”

This video from the USA is about black-capped chickadees.

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United States trees leafing out sooner than in Thoreau’s time


This video from the USA is called Henry David Thoreau‘s Walden: A Tribute.

From Boston University in the USA today:

Walden trees leafing out far earlier than in Thoreau’s time

9 minutes ago by Richard Primack

Climate-change studies by Boston University biologists show leaf-out times of trees and shrubs at Walden Pond are an average of 18 days earlier than when Henry David Thoreau made his observations there in the 1850s. However, not all plants respond in the same way, the result of which is that native species eventually may be threatened and lose competitive advantage to more resilient invasive shrubs such as Japanese barberry, according to a study published in the new edition of New Phytologist.

Walden trees

“By comparing historical observations with current experiments, we see that climate change is creating a whole new risk for the native plants in Concord,” said BU Prof. Richard Primack. “Weather in New England is unpredictable, and if plants leaf out early in warm years, they risk having their leaves damaged by a surprise frost. But if plants wait to leaf out until after all chance of frost is lost, they may lose their competitive advantage.”

The study began when Caroline Polgar, a graduate student with Primack, examined Thoreau’s unpublished observations of leaf-out times for common trees and shrubs in Concord in the 1850s, then repeated his observations over the past five springs.

“We started to wonder if all trees and shrubs in Concord are equally responsive to warming temperatures in the spring,” Polgar said. What she found was surprising. “All species—no exceptions—are leafing out earlier now than they did in Thoreau’s time,” she said. “On average, woody plants in Concord leaf out 18 days earlier now.”

In New England, plants have to be cautious about leafing out in the early spring. If they leaf out too early, their young leaves could suffer from subsequent late frost. Since leafing-out requirements are thought to be species-specific, the group designed a lab experiment to test the responsiveness of 50 tree and shrub species in Concord to warming temperatures in the late winter and early spring.

For the past two winters, the researchers traveled to Concord and collected leafless dormant twigs from each species, and placed them in cups of water in their lab. Over the following weeks, they observed how quickly each species was be able produce their leaves in these unseasonably warm lab conditions.

“We found compelling evidence that invasive shrubs, such as Japanese barberry, are ready to leaf out quickly once they are exposed to warm temperatures in the lab even in the middle of winter, whereas native shrubs, like highbush bluberry, and native trees, like red maple, need to go through a longer winter chilling period before they can leaf out—and even then their response is slow,” says Amanda Gallinat, a second-year graduate student and third author of the paper.

The strength of this study, Gallinat said, is the pairing of observations and experiments.

“Our current observations show that plants in Concord today are leafing out earlier than in Thoreau’s time in response to warm temperatures,” she said. “However, the experiments show that as spring weather continues to warm, it will be the invasive shrubs that will be best able to take advantage of the changing conditions.”

The spring growing season is of increasing interest to biologists studying the effects of a warming climate, and in coming decades non-native invasive shrubs are positioned to win the gamble on warming temperature, Primack said. The BU group is adding these findings to a growing list of advancing spring phenomena in Concord and elsewhere in Massachusetts, including flowering dates, butterfly flight times, and migratory bird arrivals.

Explore further: Warm winters let trees sleep longer.

More information: docs.google.com/file/d/0B05KETqlwfNmdnRhTHF3QTNzYkU/edit?pli=1

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Antarctic emperor penguins and global warming


This video is called Emperor penguins – The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth – BBC.

From Wildlife Extra:

Antarctic emperor penguins may be adapting to warmer temperatures

January 2014: Antarctic emperor penguins could be capable of adapting to environmental change declares a new study. Four colonies were studied by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Australian Antarctic Division and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in California.

Their results suggest that unexpected breeding behaviour may be a sign that the birds are adapting to climate change. It was found that when the sea ice formed later than usual penguin colonies moved from their traditional breeding grounds to the much thicker floating ice shelves that surround the continent. This is positive news for the birds’ future.

At the moment the emperor penguins’ reliance on sea ice as a breeding platform and concern about changing patterns of sea ice have both led to the species being designated as ‘near threatened’ by the IUCN Red List.

Barbara Wienecke of the Australian Antarctic Division said, “These new findings are an important step forward in helping us understand what the future may hold for these animals, however, we cannot assume that this behaviour is widespread in other penguin populations. The ability of these four colonies to relocate to a different environment – from sea ice to ice shelf – in order to cope with local circumstances, was totally unexpected. We have yet to discover whether or not other species may also be adapting to changing environmental conditions.”

Lead author, Peter Fretwell of BAS said, “Satellite observations captured of one colony in 2008, 2009 and 2010 show that the concentration of annual sea ice was dense enough to sustain a colony. But this was not the case in 2011 and 2012 when the sea ice did not form until a month after the breeding season began. During those years the birds moved up onto the neighbouring floating ice shelf to raise their young.

“What’s particularly surprising is that climbing up the sides of a floating ice shelf – which at this site can be up to 30 metres high – is a very difficult manoeuvre for emperor penguins. Whilst they are very agile swimmers they have often been thought of as clumsy out of the water.”

See also here.

Why does the Antarctic hold such allure for those who go there? Alok Jha speaks to explorers drawn by the power of the ice, the extraordinary wildlife, the adventure and the isolation: here.

How many emperor penguins live in the Ragnhild colony in Antarctica? Here.

Like an ice age radiator, heat from volcanoes helped Antarctica’s plants and bugs survive Earth’s glacial periods, scientists think based on the result of a new study: here.

Ancient Antarctic Atmosphere Dated Via Krypton | Video here.

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British birds and climate change


This video from Britain is called Taking a look at terns 1: Common vs Arctic Tern.

From Wildlife Extra:

Hope for threatened birds

New research shows that while climate change is affecting British bird populations, the UK’s Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are already acting as successful refuges.

November 2013: According to research led by researchers at the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), there is strong evidence to show that internationally important British bird populations are under threat from climate change.

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the paper assessed the impact of climate change on breeding seabirds and wintering waterbirds found at protected sites across the UK.

Species that will be threatened by climate change for the long-term include Arctic terns, guillemots, eider and bar-tailed godwit.

However, despite this bleak outlook, the BTO are keen to emphasize a positive message that has come out of the research. While the SPA network will not be able to singlehandedly stop some species from declining, they will play an increasingly important role as sanctuaries.

The paper’s lead author, Dr Ali Johnson,

sic; Alison Johnston, according to Nature Climate Change

said: “We found that the measures we already have in place to conserve our seabirds and waterbirds are ‘future-proofed’ for a changing climate, and will also protect important populations in the future”.

Who is responsible for climate change? Here.

Waterbird migration and climate change


This video from Canada says about itself:

Common Goldeneye – Bucephala clangula

These Common Goldeneye ducks are wintering in Lake Ontario. Around late March to early April they will begin returning to their northern breeding grounds across Canada and Alaska. Common Goldeneyes can also be found in northern Europe and Asia.

From Wildlife Extra:

Climate changes shift wintering ranges of waterbirds

Waterbirds moving north – More in Finland and Sweden

May 2013. Migratory waterbirds have shifted their wintering areas north-eastwards due to climate change in Europe, according to a group of scientists including Richard Hearn of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). Their new study found a strong link between changes in the numbers of goldeneyes, tufted ducks and goosanders wintering across northern Europe and changes in temperature in early winter.

Large rise in Finland and Sweden

In Finland and Sweden, the mid-winter numbers of these three species are more than 130,000 individuals higher than three decades ago. Correspondingly, on the southern edge of the distribution in France, Ireland and Switzerland, numbers have dropped by nearly 120,000 individuals. In several southern countries wintering numbers have halved.

Richard Hearn, WWT’s Head of Species Monitoring and a contributor to the study, said: “Our world is changing rapidly and conservation tools need to be flexible so they can respond to that challenge. This means more monitoring, to keep track of bird populations that are, in some cases, changing exponentially. It also means maintaining a coherent network of protected areas throughout Europe, and altering their management in response to the changing mix of wildlife that uses them.”

“Studies like this are critical to making governments aware of their shifting responsibilities and helping them plan for the future.”

Tufted ducks and goldeneyes in Finland

Aleksi Lehikoinen, Curator at the Finnish Museum of Natural History and lead author of the study, said: “In Finland, the change has been strongest in tufted ducks and goldeneyes, whose numbers have increased ten-fold. Waterbird numbers are connected with the early winter temperature, which in south Finland increased by about 3.8 degrees between 1980 and 2010.”

Hunting

This may have implications for their conservation, because birds are making less use of the protected areas that were designated to protect them. The shifts in the birds’ ranges may also affect the impact of hunting, as possibilities increase in the north and decrease them in the south, altering potential bag sizes.

The research is based on counts from the International Waterbird Census and the results have been published in Global Change Biology.

June 2013. Most species at greatest risk from climate change are not currently conservation priorities, finds an IUCN study that introduces a pioneering method to assess the vulnerability of species to climate change: here.

16 of your favorite things that climate change is totally screwing up: here.

Blue tits and climate change research


This video says about itself:

Video from a blue tit box nest camera and some outside showing the 44 days from laying the first egg, feeding the chicks through to 8 fledged birds (from 11 eggs).

From the University of Lincoln in England:

Blue tits provide insight into climate change

15 April 2013

Researchers believe that the size of birds’ nests created in response to changing weather patterns may be partly to blame for reproductive failures over the last two years.

An article in the April edition of The Biologist, the Society of Biology’s magazine, explains that birds produce different sized nests depending on the weather.

Written by Dr Charles Deeming, senior lecturer at the University of Lincoln and a Fellow of the Society of Biology, the article explains that nests are far more than just a way to hold eggs and chicks.

Dr Deeming said: “Over the past few years scientific interest in nests has increased, with studies ranging from nest composition, construction behaviour and thermal properties to the use of nests as potential signals to mates. We’ve realised that the factors affecting nest construction are far more complex than we had previously understood.”

Dr Deeming’s studies of great tits and blue tits breeding in nest boxes at the University’s Riseholme Park campus have shed light on how nests are built and how they function.

He found that individual birds can build extremely different nests each year. Cold weather on the days the bird was adding lining to the nest meant they built heavier nests than when the weather was warmer. This suggests that an important function of the nest is to keep the bird warm while it sits on the eggs. Once the nest is lined, the female will lay the first egg, which will be incubated for around two weeks. This means a larger, warmer nest will be important for keeping the bird warm if the weather is cold.

However, as climate change brings more unpredictable weather patterns the way birds construct nests will be affected. In both 2011 and 2012, for example, early spells of warm weather were followed by much lower temperatures.

At Riseholme, this seems to have had devastating effects on reproductive success. Birds building in these early warm periods are likely to construct a light, poorly insulated nest. If the weather subsequently turns cooler, having a poorly insulated nest may have an adverse effect on their reproductive success.

Birds use a wide range of materials in their nests, from moss to sheep’s wool, and their availability may also be altered by climate change. Certain plants may go extinct in local areas, so some species could lose a key nesting material.

Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, said: “Climate change will have a large effect on our ecosystems and our food production, and Dr Deeming’s is one of many studies demonstrating that the effects will be complex and difficult to predict. It is essential that we continue to study how organisms adapt to climate change and how we can best mitigate its effects.”

Dr Deeming concludes: “Much more research is needed to determine how local climate affects nest construction. Only then will we start to understand how climate change is likely to affect nest building, and hence reproductive success.”

Aug. 13, 2013 — Female blue tits with brightly coloured crowns are better mothers than duller birds, according to a new study led by the University of York: here.