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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Australian Birds Change Breeding Times to Suite the Harsh Climate

Human beings may be having problems with variable weather in Australia, but animals are coping well. Zebra finches, pelicans and woodswallows seem to know when the weather changes. If the Spring comes early they nest early. If it is too dry to breed they hold off until times are better. They change their breeding point by months either way.

When glaciation was at its peak the woodswallow population actually boomed. In boom times there is a larger pool of gene carriers ideal for genetic selection when times become harder. More of the birds die off. Yet, the survivors have traits that suite the changed environment.

Australia has the harshest of climates with long periods of drought. Consequently, birds such as pelicans live a longtime on a meagre diet so they can wait for good times to breed. Zebra finches seem to do well even when times are very hard.
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Conservation
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