Genetics and Climate, is there a connection?
Climate Change is altering the behavior of birds and even genetic changes can be observed. An article recently published in my Spanish newspaper Sur, really makes you think.
No more seasons
I have been living in the south of Spain since 1976 and I have observed the changes in the seasons. There is no real spring or autumn anymore. It feels as if one goes straight from summer into the winter. Seasonal clothes hang in the wardrobe year after year without being used. The whole country is suffering from a severe drought and each year there is less water in the reservoirs. Coming back to the article, some disturbing news was shared.
Because of Global Warming, birds are changing their habits. Some of the species do not emigrate anymore, or if they do they don’t go so far south anymore. What is also observed is that new bird species from Africa are now seen here in the south.
The University of Florida also observed genetic changes taking place. The wings and beaks have become shorter. Birds are adapting to their new environmental conditions.
Changes in behavior
The swallow is a bird which comes and goes. They emigrate to warmer regions but they now are returning 1 month earlier than last century. SEO/BirdLife has studied in depth, the effect Global Warming has on birds. Some species have it more difficult while others are quite happy with this change. Because of Climate Change, the swallow is quite happy to spend most of the winter here. as the daytime temperatures are close to 20C it is no surprise.
There are more Herons too. They live and reproduce at close by reservoirs, lakes, and rivers. There they have found something new to eat, the American crab, who loves to live in those humid areas. As I said before we are lacking rainfall in a big part of the country so I personally wonder how the situation might be let’s say in 10 to 20 years.
To find food is most important
Another thing that can change the behavior pattern of birds is obviously how easily they can find a food source. Humans are to be blamed for using pesticides, which in turn kill insects. There is an overall decline in Insects, food source for birds.
Mr.Phillip A. Stevens, the investigator of the University of Durham in England and head of a scientific group, has come to the following conclusion. He worked with data from 1980 to 2010.
Working with data from 1980 to 2010, he studied 340 bird species in the US, and 145 in Europe. Of the 145 species in Europe, 95% live and reproduce here in Spain. He found that of the species living in Spain, 59 species were worse off and 37 species were better off. This big decline in biodiversity is alarming.
The storks in Spain
In Castilla, the arrival of the storks was a special event. These birds would fly over the Gibraltar Straight into the Sahara and feed on grasshoppers and other insects. They would come back to Spain to have their babies. Their migration was not driven because of cold temperatures. Storks have a lot of feathers and are insulated from cold. The motive of their migration was because of food. This behavior has now been changed. The culprit being the many wastes dumps spread over Spanish territory. Storks can stay here now the whole year round, and I am thinking that their food source has not improved.
Humans, as well as the Flora and Fauna of our Planet, all suffer the effects of Climate Change. What would take decades in old times now seems to only need a few years to manifest. Behavioral and even genetic changes now can happen in one generation.
The swallow, the heron, and the stork, these are just a few examples of behavior change due to Climate Change, it makes one think don’t you agree?
Source; Newspaper Sur, an article from Fernando Minana
Photo Source: Pixabay
Perhaps you would like to read my post on insects.