Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Great Tits Adjust to British Warmth

The bird, for heavens sake! Parus major.

Ornithologists have found that great tits in England are laying eggs earlier in the spring than previous years, keeping up with their favored food. The winter moth (Operophtera brumata) caterpillars make up 90% of the chicks' diet for the first two weeks of life.

Great tits are laying eggs about two weeks earlier than in 1961. This is critical for survival because the winter moth larvae, caterpillar, is making its appearance two weeks earlier. The caterpillar stage of the winter moth is triggered by ambient temperature. Needing an abundant food source in the first two weeks, the birds have adjusted their breeding habits to coincide with the larval stage of the moth.

The researchers note that the same species of great tit in the Netherlands are not faring as well. Their breeding cycle is advancing, but not fast enough to keep pace with the caterpillars arrival which is advancing three times faster. The birds lay broods of eight to nine chicks each year. If the caterpillar's metamorphosis is too early, then the birds starve to death.

The research results show that some species are flexable to change and individuals within that species may not be behaviorially flexable. The researchers said they want "...to try and understand why some species are flexible and others aren't - it's the ones that aren't flexible that are going to be at risk."

And they leave us with one very important observation: this is not evolution.




The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

6 comments:

Mike's America said...

Ah, but it IS evolution. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances is key to survival.

More advanced and flexible species will thrive, while those that cannot will not thrive.

That's all part of the plan.

P.S. Not to worry about the Dutch Tits. That Chilean volcano should cool things down.

Tom C said...

Those are some small Tits!

I know I know.......Birds

Indigo Red said...

(heavy sigh)....Mike, Mike, Mike. This is NOT evolution. Everyone knows evolution is when one creature suddenly becomes something totally different, like when that unknown chimpanzee suddenly gave birth to a human baby. Adaptation to environmental circumstances as evolution - are you daft?

Tom, what can I say?

dcat said...

I have AMO!!!

Just try and make me!

Mike's America said...

Indigo: I got an A in that class. Are you saying my teachers mislead me?

Indigo Red said...

Apparently so, Mike. Millions and millions of Democrats can't be wrong.