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Earth Science News

The Heat Is On: Climate Change Causes Birds To Hatch Early (australiangeographic.com.au) 123

grrlscientist writes: A recently published study reveals that climate change can cause birds' eggs to hatch early. In addition to creating warmer temperatures that trigger early embryonic development in birds, climate change also increases the frequency and duration of heat waves. Thus, warming temperatures are leading to asynchronous hatching of individual eggs within a clutch and increased chick mortality, particularly for birds breeding in the tropics and semi-tropics, and in tropical deserts.
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The Heat Is On: Climate Change Causes Birds To Hatch Early

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  • Does this cause developmental issues, or does the heat also result in a faster maturation cycle while in the egg?

    In this case, it seems they're equally developed, but latter lays don't hatch at the same time as the others and thus are less developed than their earlier-hatching siblings.

    • Re:Development (Score:4, Insightful)

      by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @05:33PM (#51544381) Homepage
      Good question. TFA explains that a female zebra finch will lay one egg a day for five days, but she won't start incubating them until they're all laid. This means that all five will hatch at about the same time, making them easier to care for. If the weather's too hot, the first eggs laid start developing before she starts sitting on them, messing up the timing. And, if it gets hot enough in the nest, the embryos can be damaged or even killed.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Well evidently the latter -- the eggs of the Zebra Finch are laid on successive days but the species' chick rearing strategy depends on the eggs hatching on the same day. This leaves the nesting pair with chicks at different levels of development, which makes it harder for the parents to care for the brood.

      • by phorm ( 591458 )

        It wasn't one or the other, the first one was a question, the second was my understanding of the article.

        Basically it says later offspring get fed less because - being hatched later - they're smaller. Normally they'd be hatched at a the same time because they don't incubate until mom sites the nest, but apparently that's happening at lay now.

        So they start developing earlier, but it doesn't really say if they're not developing fully, just that they're possibly getting fed less due to the not hatching at the

  • by skelly33 ( 891182 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @05:29PM (#51544355)
    I read another study about a year ago (the link for which I can't find, so I profusely apologize in advance for the lack of citation), which also found that warmer temperatures were causing eggs to hatch sooner... but that the new birdlings were starving to death for a different reason: the timing of their hatching no longer aligns with the bloom of insects which are required for their sustenance. Apparently the insects did not get the memo that the warmer temperatures should also make them spring forth earlier in the season. So they are still business as usual after the young birds are already dying out, but as far as the birds are concerned, the bugs are late to the party... now I wonder if an additional side effect is an atypically larger insect population due to the comparative lack of predators.
    • by belthize ( 990217 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @06:11PM (#51544661)

      This is a fairly significant problem for parts of Northern New Mexico through Central Colorado. I think though that it's kind of the opposite timing from what you describe. The Spruce Beetle larvae are spawning at an earlier time. The eggs of birds who primarily predate on them to feed their young aren't hatching early enough (they're hatching earlier, just not early enough) and are actually dwindling due to starvation while the infestation gets larger. The pine beetle infestation is even worse.

      It's rather stunning to see mile after mile of dead forest in parts of central Colorado.
      http://www.summitdaily.com/new... [summitdaily.com]

    • by alexhs ( 877055 )

      There's this comic [lemonde.fr] in French. References are also in French, from a cycle of conferences about the climate before COP21.

      Basically, bird communities are moving North with the climate warming, about 100km in 20years, which means they're not moving as fast as the climate is warming (they should have moved 250km North). But the whole food chain should move North and/or adapt to the temperature. Plants and invertebrate adapt immediately (basically, a target temperature is the trigger for spring), but laying eggs

    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      Apparently the insects did not get the memo that the warmer temperatures should also make them spring forth earlier in the season.

      Or... birds and insects do not have identical metabolisms.

    • Don't be silly. The "bloom" of insects is also earlier. And even if that were not the case, some proportion of the population of eggs won't hatch early, giving them a big competitive advantage. It's called the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. I thought they still taught that in schools?
  • NEWS FLASH: The world has never been static.

    • NEWS FLASH: That's not insight and we know that already.

      NEWS FLASH: that doesn't mean CO2 isn't making the glob warm and the climate change.

  • Caribou as well. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darkonc ( 47285 ) <stephen_samuel@b ... m ['en.' in gap]> on Friday February 19, 2016 @05:34PM (#51544397) Homepage Journal
    Native communities in Northern Saskatchewan are dealing with the problem of caribou herds moving north [www.cbc.ca]. Their ranges are no longer within range of hunters from the communities. I theory, the climate change would have probably cause buffalo to move north to replace them, but the buffalo are mostly extinct, now.
  • We must immediately divert all resources from the war on drugs, and wage war on carbon. Cook a steak on the grill? Go to jail. It really is that simple. /sarc.

    • war on drugs, we have more drugs.

      war on terrorists, we have more terrorist

      war on poverty, we have more poverty

      You are suggesting war on carbon will reduce carbon?

      • You are suggesting war on carbon will reduce carbon?

        Facepalm - Please tell me you didn't take his post seriously.

    • We must immediately divert all resources from the war on drugs,

      I sort of get the impression you're being sarcastic, especially your sarcasm marker. Frankly the war on drugs is one of the stupidest things that the US government ahs ever engaged in. Anything diverting money away from that would be an excellent idea.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @05:59PM (#51544569)

    The end is nigh!!!!!!

  • My friend Junior says,

    "Fewer birds, means more available shotgun shells and less poop on windshield."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The increase in mortality is a temporary result of warming. Eventually those that hatch earlier will dominate through natural selection. Then the faster rate of birth that follows will offset all the other problems we have been causing and birds will come to dominate the Earth. I look forward to welcoming our new feathered overlords.

  • i did not submit that link. my headline and my words were stolen and the original link to the story i submitted -- http://www.forbes.com/sites/gr... [forbes.com] -- was replaced with the australian geographic link. honestly, the australian geographic story pales compared to the story that i shared.
    • by EzInKy ( 115248 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @07:00PM (#51545079)

      Probably because of this "Thank you for visiting Forbes. We noticed that you have an ad blocker enabled." Which makes the site useless to many of us.

    • The editors are actually editing stuff? How'd that happenn?
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Interesting.

      Of course, if they had posted the correct link, then a significant portion of the people would not have been able to read it without unblocking Forbes, which is probably not going to happen due to the perceived abuse of the Forbes site and its ads.

      However, if you got enough interest to get it posted, you probably should have had your story posted with the proper link, and ignored the naysayers.

      For the record, I ad block Forbes myself, which is too bad really, and I do find them a bit obnoxious (

    • forbes.com

      Well right there is the problem. Malware enabling site Forbes.com insists that before we see anything there, we have to disable our adblockers and allow them to serve us up a nice stew of malware.

      was replaced with the australian geographic link. honestly, the australian geographic story pales compared to the story that i shared.

      Too bad. Since I can't see it, unless I agree to the malware, I just don't bother going there any more. Forbes is the internet version of unsafe sex.

      • but the point is that I DID NOT POST THAT LINK. my words were stolen to promote a poorly written substitute to the story that i quoted and that i intended to share. if the plagiarist wanted to promote a different story, then that person should never have used MY NAME nor MY WORDS to do so. this bait-and-switch plagiarism should not be allowed to stand on this, or any, reputable site. FYI: here's the link to the story that i shared: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gr... [forbes.com] i am sure you'll agree that the piece i
        • my words were stolen to promote a poorly written substitute to the story that i quoted and that i intended to share. if the plagiarist wanted to promote a different story, then that person should never have used MY NAME nor MY WORDS to do so. this bait-and-switch plagiarism should not be allowed to stand on this, or any, reputable site.

          First off, calm down. Bait and switch - I do not think it means what I think you think it means. And given that the folks who make those decisions have been catching a load of bad feedback from references to Forbes.com, they did think your story was interesting enough to search out an alternative link.

          That's all. I do suspect that you will never again have to worry about them "plagiarizing" any submission of yours in the future.

          FYI: here's the link to the story that i shared: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gr... [forbes.com]

          i am sure you'll agree that the piece i shared is far superior to the bait-and-switched australian geographic story.

          I'll never know, because I won't ever see that article, because I won't disa

          • as community members, we have the responsibility to make sure that the powers-that-be act in accordance to the guidelines they set forward. they should not be allowed to act in a random way, nor to act unethically, nor to act against their own stated policies. so first, because slashdot accepts forbes submissions in other topics the board, even within the week, why did they randomly decide to not accept this particular one? and further, why did they decide to sneakily substitute a different URL -- thereby p
  • I can get my chicken filet sandwich that much sooner!
  • So birds in their wisdom can adapt to climate change but the weeping willies say humans can't.

  • Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Would that result in an overpopulation of birds, and further global warming, and hatching even earlier, until birds stop laying eggs and reproduce like humans - birds coming directly out of them rather than hatching from the eggs

  • They shouldn't believe the global warming hype
  • In all of this planet's history we've seen more significant changes in the climate and at rates much greater and slower than what we've seen. The flora and fauna has adapted before and will adapt again.

    The interesting thing about how climate, flora, and fauna interact is that a change in any one produces a change in the others. Climates do change, fauna and flora adapt, and a new climate is produced.

    At one time I would have been upset about the potential extinction of a species but no more. I remember he

  • Anecdotal observations ...

    In Southern Ontario where I live ... this year I have been hearing many song birds in early and mid February. Today (Feb 20), it was a male cardinal singing. A couple of weeks ago, it was Red Winged Black Birds, and American Goldfinches.

    This is very unusual. It was not until March that we would hear them. I am not saying they are migratory, since some of them choose to stay and feed of bird feeders in people's backyards. But the act of males singing is the unusual part ...

    It is an

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