High temperatures drive offspring mortality in a cooperatively breeding bird
© Heinrich van den Berg/Getty
Cooperative raising of young birds does not improve their ability to survive extreme weather events.
Bird species that rear their young cooperatively are often found in regions that experience major fluctuations in local climate, leading to the hypothesis that cooperative breeding may act as a buffer against environmental challenges.
Researchers from the University of Cape Town have studied 15 years of data on the cooperative-breeding southern pied babbler in southern Africa’s Kalahari desert.
They found that a larger breeding group did not improve fledglings’ chance of survival during periods of extreme heat or low rainfall, suggesting that greater cooperation cannot counter more extreme environmental constraints.
With evidence that temperatures are increasing and rainfall is decreasing in the area, the finding raises concerns about the species’ ability to survive a changing climate.
- Proc. R. Soc. B 287, 20201140 (2020). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.1140