Associations between changing climate and body condition over decades in two southern hemisphere passerine birds

Janet L. Gardner (Corresponding author), Eleanor Rowley, Perry de Rebeira, Alma de Rebeira, Lyanne Brouwer

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Climate change presents considerable challenges for endotherms because they must maintain high, relatively constant body temperatures across a range of environmental conditions to ensure survival and optimise performance. Individuals exposed to changing weather must manage energy and water allocation to maintain thermal homeostasis, with consequences for body condition, and hence there is potential for selection because body condition is strongly linked to fitness. Understanding how weather drives changes in body condition is therefore fundamental to understanding how fitness is affected by climate change. Here we test for associations between weather and body condition and how this changes over time, in two co-existing species of small insectivorous passerines, the red-winged fairy-wren, Malurus elegans and white-browed scrubwren, Sericornis frontalis, that have been the subject of a ringing study for 39 years in temperate south-western Australia. The study populations have experienced increases in minimum temperatures in winter and summer as well as decreases in the frequencies of days with thermal minima  35 °C. Although, warming temperatures may reduce thermoregulatory costs, repeated exposure to hot conditions has been shown to have negative effects on body condition. Thus, we predict that the reduction over time in daily minima
Original languageEnglish
JournalClimate Change Responses
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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