Don’t Count Your Zebra Finches Before They Hatch

Different species develop techniques to maximize reproduction and survival of their wee babies. The Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttate) is no different, a common bird found through most of Australia, it lays one egg a day for several days but does not begin to incubate them until all eggs are laid. That way offspring hatch at the same time and are generally the same size and require the same amount of food. A recent study published in the Royal Society Open Science looked at the potential wrench climate change could throw into this strategy by way of heat waves. The study found that during periods of elevated temperatures the eggs that were laid first began to develop right away and therefore hatched before those laid a few days later. This led to greater competition for food as the offspring who hatched first were larger and required more nourishment.

Potentially this phenomenon could lead to reduced survival rates of offspring. In the case of species of conservation concern, the zebra finch is not one of them, this could lead to significant loss in populations and possible extinction. It is possible that some species might alter the construction of their nests to adapt to increases in temperature but those changes take time to occur and may not happen in time.

About the Illustration: Micron pen and markers in my wee sketchbook.

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