Preferred habitat of breeding birds may be compromised by climate change: unexpected effects of an exceptionally cold, wet spring

Whitehouse, Michael J.; Harrison, Nancy M.; Mackenzie, Julia; Hinsley, Shelley A.. 2013 Preferred habitat of breeding birds may be compromised by climate change: unexpected effects of an exceptionally cold, wet spring. PLoS ONE, 8 (9), e75536. 13, pp.

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Previous studies of the consequences for breeding birds of climate change have explored how their populations may respond to increasing temperatures. However, few have considered the likely outcome of predicted extreme conditions and the relative vulnerability of populations in different habitats. Here, we compare phenology and breeding success in great tits and blue tits over a 10 year period, including the extremely harsh conditions during spring 2012, at three sites in eastern England – mixed deciduous woodland, riparian and urban habitat. Production, measured as brood biomass, was significantly lower in 2012 compared with the previous 9 years, with the decrease in productivity relatively greatest in woodland habitat. Production was related to hatch delay, i.e. birds not initiating incubation immediately after clutch completion, which was more common in 2012 than in previous years. The best predictor of hatch delay was daytime temperature (not nighttime minimum temperature) and rainfall, which convincingly reflected low growth and activity of caterpillar prey. We found that birds breeding in riparian and urban habitats were less vulnerable to the extremes of weather than those breeding in mixed deciduous woodland.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity > BD - 1.3 - Long-term/large-scale monitoring and experiments ...
CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open access paper - Official URL link provides full text
Additional Keywords: great tit, blue tit, woodland, woodland bird, urban parkland, urban bird
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 25 Sep 2013 15:36 +0 (UTC)

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