How Song Sparrows Experience Climate Change

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"How Song Sparrows Experience Climate Change"
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Song sparrows experience climate change differently, depending on the stage of their lives, according to the California, Davis and Point Blue Conservation Science.

Both of these groups studied the song sparrow from baby through adult, to see how climate change affected them. They discovered that the effect was very different when viewing the different stages of this bird’s life. The survival of an adult was sensitive when exposed to the colder winter weather. So when they are located in areas where the temperatures have become colder over time, these birds had the least chance of surviving.

Those studying these birds hypothesized that the young would react the same way. This was not true. The juvenile birds need to make it through the summer before they can be concerned about the winter. When there is a winter that is warmer and drier, the following spring there is not as much food for the young sparrows to eat. So before they approach winter temperatures and conditions, these young birds have to figure out how to survive with limited food.

These factors show that, depending on the maturity of the bird, their chances of survival depend on different factors.

The young that are still with the mother are given a buffer against the weather-related conditions. The ones that are on their own, though, are likely to be sensitive to the conditions, as they do not have the skills or experience to find food which their parents have. This can lead to a downfall in the population of the song sparrow. This problem has been an issue for many years, but, when climate change is factored in, the situation is exacerbated.

These studies were both conducted at Point Blue’s Palomarin Field Station in the Point Reyes National Seashore in California. This group of birds does not migrate, plus there are data available on the survivorship of these birds for 34 years.  The head of this research, Dybala, was able to add this data to weather data that had also been collected at the station. By comparing the two sets of data, it was determined how weather affected the song sparrow over the years. These data can also be used to show how  climate change can affect other animals, in addition to the song sparrow.

The data comparison can be used to develop climate change adaptation plans, determine further research and see where resources can be spent to help lessen the impact of climate change on different species.

Both of these studies were assisted with funding from the National Park Service’s G.M. Wright Climate Change Fellowship, University of California, Davis Graduate Group in Ecology, Point Blue Conservation Science and ARCS Foundation scholarships.

These studies show that inhabitants of this world need to realize the difference that climate change makes on populations of wildlife, and they need to take steps to stop this decline. The decline of these species could reflect on the population of humans in the future, so it needs to be considered with urgency.

More about this author: Kimberly Napier

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