For these flycatchers, global warming spells a rise in fatal conflicts

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Samplonius and Both. Climate Change May Affect Fatal Competition between Two Bird SpeciesCurrent Biology, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.11.063

Researchers have found yet another way in which climate change has been detrimental to migrating birds. As European winters have become warmer, pied flycatchers traveling from Africa to reach breeding grounds in the Netherlands are arriving to find that resident great tits have already claimed nesting sites for the season. As a result, the number of flycatchers killed in great tit nests has risen dramatically….

….Climate change has differentially affected the schedules of these interspecific competitors, leading to greater synchrony, the evidence shows. Great tits have been able to respond to warmer winters by shifting the breeding season earlier in a way the flycatchers can’t, Samplonius explains. Because flycatchers spend much of the year in Africa, they aren’t able to adjust to changing conditions in Europe in the same way.

The researchers also found that great tits occupy more nest boxes after mild winters. Not surprisingly, fatal competition is higher in years when and in areas where there are more breeding tits….

… Samplonius says the findings highlight the importance of long-term research for understanding the many and complex effects of a changing climate. “As a scientific community, we have to continue doing and supporting long-term research as climate change continues at increasing rates,” he says.

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