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Hummingbirds May Struggle To Avoid Climate Change

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Hummingbirds at the feeder in Mariposa County
Sierra Sun Times file photo

Thin, cold air makes high altitude relocation a challenge

July 14, 2022 – Climate change is making it more challenging for small animals like hummingbirds to reach heights that allow them to evade the impacts of a warming world. A team of researchers set out to study how Anna’s hummingbirds ( Calypte anna ) would adjust to a higher altitude than that of their natural habitat. The scientists published their findings in the Journal of Experimental Biology .

The biologists, supported in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation , relocated the birds to two areas at much higher altitudes than their natural habitat. After an adjustment period, the team measured the hummers’ metabolic rates and discovered that they experienced a drop in metabolic rates approaching 40%.

“Overall, these results suggest low air pressure and oxygen availability may reduce hovering performance in hummingbirds when exposed to the challenge of high-elevation conditions,” said Austin Spence, one of the authors of the paper.
The birds also spent more time in a torpid state at higher altitudes regardless of the elevation of their original habitat. “Whether they’re from a warm or […]

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