Collaboration is key in climate change research

(Thomas Wensing/Flickr Creative Commons)

Researchers everywhere have already begun observing the environmental effects of climate change on polar ice caps and weather patterns, but research between the University of Connecticut, the United States Agency for International Development and the University of California, Berkley has seen changes in the lifestyles of birds as well, according to a report from UConn Today.

The research concluded that birds have shifted their breeding schedules to one week earlier than it was 70 years ago. This occured because the spring season is arriving earlier in the year so birds can breed based on when food will be readily available. However, this also means that with inconsistent temperature fluctuations, young birds can be exposed to lower temperatures in the nest. This change might lead to other adaptational issues for birds.

On a small scale, some young hatchlings might die before they have the chance to leave the nest. On a larger scale, other animals who possess predator, prey or symbiotic relationships with these birds will have to alter their schedules. The entire ecosystem will be affected in a domino effect, proving that climate change has much further implications than we have previously considered.

These findings demonstrate the importance of collaboration between research universities when it comes to studying climate change. Answering climate change questions requires a wealth of time and resources, especially as the issue becomes even greater and more urgent. The breadth and depth of this project specifically required data from 47,023 monitored bird nests from more than 100 species from the different universities involved and from Project Nestwatch, which is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

It is also imperative that universities work together to publicize climate change research such as this. It is all too easy for this research to find its niche in universities and laboratories without reaching the ears of the general public. But if birds are beginning to breed an entire week earlier than they used to, this has huge implications on other species in the ecosystem who are dependent on the temporal schedules of birds. Even though the research proves that the ecosystem is drastically changing, there are still many who are uninformed of these occurrences. Between UConn and its collaborators, research like this can be published on a greater scale, beyond the scientific community.