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Arctic Shorebird Breeding Response to Climate Warming

Paper Reviewed
Weiser, E.L., Brown, S.C., Lanctot, R.B., Gates, H.R., Abraham, K.F., Bentzen, R.L., Bety, J., Boldenow, M.L., Brook, R.W., Donnelly, T.F., English, W.B., Flemming, S.A., Franks, S.E., Gilchrist, H.G., Giroux, M.-A., Johnson, A., Kendall, S., Kennedy, L.V., Koloski, L., Kwon, E., Lamarre, J.-F., Lank, D.B., Latty, C.J., Lecomte, N., Liebezeit, J.R., Mckinnon, L., Nol, E., Perz, J., Rausch, J., Robards, M., Saalfeld, S.T., Senner, N.R., Smith, P.A., Soloviev, M., Solovyeva, D., Ward, D.H., Woodard, P.F. and Sandercock, B.K. 2019. Effects of environmental conditions on reproductive effort and nest success of Arctic-breeding shorebirds. Ibis 160: 608-623.

One of the concerns associated with predictions of CO2-induced global warming is the claim that the number of birds and their habitat areas will decline. Although some changes in bird populations and their habitat areas have been documented in the literature, linking such changes to global warming remains an unsettled matter; and when there have been changes, they are not nearly as horrific as climate alarmists make them out to be. In fact, much of the change is viewed as neutral or positive (see Birds: General in our Subject Index), which promising outlook was also the recent conclusion of Weiser et al. (2018).

As their contribution to this subject, this team of 38 researchers hailing from four countries (Canada, UK, USA and Russia) examined the reproductive success of 17 Arctic-breeding shorebirds in response to short-term climate warming at 16 fields sites over seven years (2010-2014 and 2008-2009). The specific reproductive variables they monitored included clutch size, incubation duration and daily nest survival, which were evaluated against two environmental variables (annual timing of snowmelt and daily temperature) and two ecological variables (daily abundance of predators and alternative prey, i.e., prey that is alternative to the birds).

In describing their findings, Weiser et al. report that they found "no effects of covariates on any reproductive trait" in 12 of the 17 taxa. For the remaining five, however, the data showed "evidence that climate warming may increase [bird] reproductive effort and nest survival." Consequently, the team of researchers concludes that "climate warming may have neutral or positive effects on the nesting cycle of most Arctic-breeding shorebirds." And that is great news for these Arctic-inhabiting animals!

Posted 19 June 2019