Ecology: Hot chicks

    Science 320, 800–803 (2008) doi:10.1126/science.1157174

    A 47-year study of British great tits (Parus major; pictured above) shows that these birds can adapt to a changing climate purely through changes in behaviour, a phenomenon known as phenotypic plasticity.

    Credit: E. JANES/NHPA

    Great tits at Wytham, near Oxford, now lay eggs an average of 14 days earlier than in 1961, keeping in step with the earlier profusion of moth larvae for feeding their chicks, report Ben Sheldon at the University of Oxford and his colleagues. This has been achieved purely through behavioural change rather than genetic selection, as shown by the fact that laying is tightly coupled to peak larval abundance even though springtime weather varies randomly from year to year.

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    Ecology: Hot chicks. Nature 453, 261 (2008).

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