The essence of the conclusions of the study led by Caspar Delhi (Max Planck Institute of Ornithology) is well known. The lighter the clothes we wear in summer, the less heat we experience because it absorbs less heat than darker textiles. In exactly the same way, migratory birds keep themselves cool during the hottest phases of their flights: thanks to their light-coloured plumage.
Delhey’s research in ornithology focuses on understanding the color diversity of birds. More specifically in relation to its phenotype: the characteristics that can be observed, as a result of the influence of the environment (environmental factors) on the genetic predisposition. I started on a relatively clear note. “Across almost all species, we have found that the plumage of migratory birds is lighter in color than that of non-migratory birds.” But not only that, Delhi and his team have also noticed that this color becomes lighter as migratory birds move further south. Briefly and translated to our country: a bird that migrates from Belgium to another continent with faint wings for that flight is a species that stays within Europe during its flight. And this, in turn, has lighter colored wings than the bird that spends the winter with us.
“But one of the most surprising findings is how consistent this is across different species,” Delhey says. “We saw the pattern in both large and small species, in waterfowl as well as in terrestrial birds… ‘From there, the team formulated two related research questions: Is this It has something to do with global warming, and is it an evolutionary adaptation?Our findings point to lighter plumage as an evolutionary response to an increased risk of warming during the migration journey.This is yet another indication of the important role that temperature and other climatic factors play.With all the implications this has for getting On a scientific grip on the interaction between global warming and potential adaptive evolutionary responses to it.
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