Birds are shrinking and scientists don’t know why

During winter months, when habitats are scarce and extreme weather conditions common, it would appear that tree canopy and brush are looking pretty sparse. But according to a study by Duke University’s North Carolina Institute for Marine Sciences, this may be more than a coincidence.

The team that conducted the research believes that the polar and tropic oceans have shrunk due to climate change – particularly since 2010, when the underwater temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean bottom started to rise. The current research shows that a decrease in snow cover and milder winter temperatures have corresponded with a decrease in bird species’ sizes, they say.

A variation of the tonguefish, a species commonly seen in puddles across the country, could not be grown in the laboratory. This was because of a lower body weight. (Sam Hutchinson / Duke University)

The average body size of penguins has decreased significantly since the 1980s, and a similar pattern is likely to occur for other animals, the researchers say. But how this will affect bird numbers is currently not clear.

“We’re almost sure that there’s something going on, but we’re not quite sure what,” study author Dr. Majid Nikpay told Digital Trends.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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