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Climate change could strip bluebirds of their ‘home-court advantage’

Cara J

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What do basketball teams and bluebirds have in common? Both may gain a “home-court advantage” from competing on their own ground. A new study found that at newly placed nest boxes, western bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) usually lost to tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) in battles over the nest site. But if the bluebirds got there first and took possession of a nest box, they were evenly matched against the invaders. Currently, bluebirds typically do arrive first from their migrations, but that could change as the climate warms, according to the researchers. “I think the study provides an interesting example of how interactions between species may be affected in subtle ways, which we do not often think about,” said Karen Wiebe, a behavioral ecologist from the University of Saskatchewan, who conducted the study published this week in The Auk: Ornithological Advances. “Numerous studies have been done on climate change and its effects on food supply in birds, and also on timing of migration. However, this is one of the first to point to an effect on the ability to secure and defend a nest site against competitors.” To find out what determined the outcome of nest site competitions, Wiebe conducted a series of [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/climate-change-could-strip-bluebirds-of-their-home-court-advantage/

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