when tits adapt to climate change

Hinatea Chatal Hinatea Chatal 4 mins
Wytham Titmouse
Since 1947, biologists have observed and analyzed the behavior of great tits in Wytham Forest in the UK.

In Wytham Forest, UK, the great tits – scientifically called Parus major – lay a month early. In any case, this is what the longest study in the world of an individually labeled animal population.

Wytham’s Great Dit study is a great help to understand the effects of climate change on birds: “Having visited it several times, I know how much this work, and others like it, have been fundamentals for our understanding of the impacts of climate change on the natural world“, explains David Attenborough, naturalist.

Biologists had begun to examine these birds of the Oxfordshire forest, from the spring 1947. This forest, located west of Oxford, has become a real “living laboratory” as biologists call it. It was the start of a 75 year relationship between tits and several generations of scientists.

This bird species is a real source of information because not afraid of man, she is not worried about the presence of biologists. The latter can thus mark the chicks thanks to rings on the legs for study throughout their lives.

The tits invest quickly the nesting boxes placed by the researchers, reproduce easily and stray little from the place where they were born.

the April 27, 1947researchers from the University of Oxford attended the laying of the first eggs great tits of this iconic wytham forest. While in 2022, the first spawning of the year took place on March 28, a month earlier than 75 years ago.

“This change is a clear signal effects of climate change on one of our forest and garden birds the most familiar. It is studies of this type that allow us to determine the consequences changes and what they could be in the future“says Professor Ben Sheldon, who now leads the Great Tit study.

The early egg laying tits settled down little by little over the years and is influenced by several factors : the climate, weathersocial interactions, as well as health and the behavior of nearby trees.

According to scientists, the species adapts to its diet. Because the caterpillars they feed on appear earlier in the springbecause the leaves they eat arrive themselves earlier and earlier each year.

In 75 years of observationthe researchers succeeded in accumulating more than 1,200 nesting boxes fixed location in Wytham Forest. Now scientists can rely on new technologies such as electronic tags, remote sensingcameras, and even genetic testing to study the genome of the species and understand their evolution.

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