Climate-related spatial and temporal variation in bill morphology over the past century in Australian parrots

Campbell-Tennant, Daniel J. E., Gardner, Janet L., Kearney, Michael R. and Symonds, Matthew R. E. 2015, Climate-related spatial and temporal variation in bill morphology over the past century in Australian parrots, Journal of biogeography, vol. 42, no. 6, pp. 1163-1175, doi: 10.1111/jbi.12499.

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Title Climate-related spatial and temporal variation in bill morphology over the past century in Australian parrots
Author(s) Campbell-Tennant, Daniel J. E.
Gardner, Janet L.
Kearney, Michael R.
Symonds, Matthew R. E.ORCID iD for Symonds, Matthew R. E.
Journal name Journal of biogeography
Volume number 42
Issue number 6
Start page 1163
End page 1175
Total pages 13
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2015-06
ISSN 0305-0270
Keyword(s) Adaptive response
Allen's rule
Bill size
Bird morphology
Climatic warming
Ecogeographical rules
Summary Aim: Allen's rule posits that the appendages of endothermic organisms will be larger in warmer climates to allow for dumping of heat loads. Given a link between appendage size and climate, we tested the prediction that climate change has driven the evolution of larger bills in birds, resulting in measurable changes over the recent past. Location: Australia. Methods: We explored geographical and temporal variation in bill surface area of five Australian parrot species to determine whether individuals from warmer climates have larger bills, and whether there have been increases in bill surface area over time, consistent with climatic warming. Measurements were obtained from museum specimens dating from 1871 to 2008. These data were then related to geographical location, collection date and locality-specific climate data, in order to construct and compare models of spatio-temporal and climate-related variation in bill morphology. Results: There have been increases in bill surface area in mulga parrots (Psephotus varius), gang-gang cockatoos (Callocephalon fimbriatum), red-rumped parrots (Psephotus haematonotus) and male crimson rosellas (Platycercus elegans), equating to a c. 4-10% increase in bill surface area since 1871. Average maximum summer temperature in the 5 years prior to specimen collection also positively predicted bill surface area in mulga parrots, red-rumped parrots and crimson rosellas, consistent with Allen's rule. With the exception of red-rumped parrots, however, models with geographical location and year of collection were still better predictors of bill surface area than local climate at the date of collection. Main conclusions: Our analysis provides evidence that four species of parrot have exhibited adaptive change in bills over the past century potentially mitigating the thermal stress caused by climatic warming. Although consistent with the predicted effects of climate change, the temporal patterns we observe may have additional causes, however, such as changes in primary productivity, habitat or food availability.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/jbi.12499
Field of Research 060303 Biological Adaptation
060208 Terrestrial Ecology
04 Earth Sciences
05 Environmental Sciences
06 Biological Sciences
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, John Wiley & Sons
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