Can a Changing Climate Make You Fat?

PRBO Conservation Science

Anna's Humminbird

Maybe… if you’re a bird.  

You may have heard that climate change is affecting the size of habitats, but did you know that it may also be changing the size of organisms themselves?

A new study finds that songbirds in central California are getting bigger.

The report, published this month in the journal Global Change Biology, looked at the wingspan and weight of thousands of small birds in the region, such as finches, robins, swallows and hummingbirds, and found that over the last 30 years size has increased from .02 percent to .1 percent annually.

Researchers at PRBO Conservation Science looked at data for 73 species, combing 40 years of data from Point Reyes National Seashore and nearly 30 years of data from Milpitas.

What’s particularly interesting about the study, say authors, is that previous studies from other places in the world have found the size of organisms to be shrinking — not growing. That phenomena has been attributed to warming temperatures.

Authors of this study propose that the increases they found in central California’s birds could be attributed to more variation in the climate and harsher weather conditions.

There’s more on the study at the San Jose Mercury News and The Bay Citizen.