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How a Small Afrotropical Bird May Respond to Global Warming

Paper Reviewed
Thompson, L.J., Brown, M. and Downs, C.T. 2015. The potential effects of climate-change-associated temperature increases on the metabolic rate of a small Afrotropical bird. The Journal of Experimental Biology 218: 1504-1512.

Noting that the roles of phenotypic plasticity and flexibility in species' physiological responses to global warming have been "relatively under-appreciated in climate change modelling," Thompson et al. (2015) decided to conduct a study to determine how a small passerine bird species might possibly cope with the temperature increase predicted by climate alarmists for the year 2080.

Working with 10- to 12-gram Cape white-eye Zosterops virens as their model species, the three researchers "investigated the effects of a 4°C increase in ambient temperature -- similar to that typically predicted for southern Africa by the year 2080 -- on certain physiological variables of this passerine bird species that is endemic to South Africa. And what did they learn by so doing?

The three South African scientists report that "there was no significant difference in resting metabolism, body mass and intraperitoneal body temperature between birds housed indoors at 4°C above outside ambient temperature and those housed indoors at outside ambient temperature." And in light of these real-world observations, they go on to conclude that "the physiological flexibility of Cape white-eyes will aid them in coping with the 4°C increase [in air temperature] predicted for their range by 2080," if, we would add, such a temperature increase were actually to occur.

Posted 7 April 2017