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Local weather conditions have complex effects on the growth of blue tit nestlings

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Thermal Biology
Volume60
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)12-19
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date24/05/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Adverse weather conditions are expected to result in impaired nestling development in birds, but empirical studies have provided equivocal support for such a relationship. This may be because the negative effects of adverse weather conditions are masked by parental effects. Globally, ambient temperatures, rainfall levels and wind speeds are all expected to increase in a changing climate and so there is a need for a better understanding of the relationship between weather conditions and nestling growth. Here, we describe a correlative study that examined the relationships between local temperatures, rainfall levels and wind speeds and the growth of individual blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) nestlings in relation to their hatching order and sex. We found that changes in a range of morphological characters were negatively related to both temperature and wind speed, but positively related to rainfall. These patterns were further influenced by the hatching order of the nestlings but not by nestling sex. This suggests that the predicted changes in local weather conditions may have complex effects on nestling growth, but that parents may be able to mitigate the adverse effects via adaptive parental effects. We therefore conclude that local weather conditions have complex effects on avian growth and the implications for patterns of avian growth in a changing climate are discussed.