Researchers from the University of Michigan and the Field Museum in Chicago studied 70,716 dead birds from 52 different species, including sparrows, thrushes and warblers, that were collected between 1978 and 2016, according to CNN. They found that 49 species got smaller by a statistically significant degree.
"We found almost all of the species were getting smaller," lead author and assistant professor at the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability Brian Weeks told BBC News. "The species were pretty diverse, but responding in a similar way. The consistency was shocking."
North American migratory birds have been getting smaller over the past 4 decades, & their wings have gotten longer.… https://t.co/JvHal9kTbd— U-M SEAS (@U-M SEAS)1575468032.0
Weeks found that the birds' lower leg bone shrank by 2.4 percent. At the same time, their wingspans increased by a mean of 1.3 percent. The scientists think that warmer temperatures reduced the birds' size, and wingspans increased to compensate, since smaller bodies mean less energy to power the birds through their long seasonal migrations.
"Migration is an incredibly taxing thing they do," Weeks told BBC News.
Animal species tend to be smaller in the warmer parts of their range, a phenomenon known as Bergmann's Rule, according to a University of Michigan press release. But while scientists have theorized animals could shrink as their habitats warmed due to climate change, there hasn't been clear evidence that it is in fact happening.
The University of Michigan researchers were able to find some because they had access to a unique dataset: Since 1978, Field Museum Collections Manager Emeritus Dave Willard has collected and catalogued more than 100,000 birds that died on the streets of Chicago after colliding with its skyscrapers. Willard told CNN he began collecting the birds when someone mentioned they were hitting the windows of the McCormick Place convention center, just a mile from the museum.
"Why let them go to waste when they could be specimens in a museum?" he told CNN.
Because of the efforts of Willard and a team of volunteers, researchers had access to a treasure trove of bird specimens during a period when their breeding grounds north of Chicago warmed by around one degree Celsius. The data didn't just show that the birds' bodies changed as temperatures warmed overall, it also showed them alter in response to shorter-term temperature changes.
"Periods of rapid warming are followed really closely by periods of decline in body size, and vice versa," Weeks said in the press release. "Being able to show that kind of detail in a morphological study is unique to our paper, as far as I know, and it's entirely due to the quality of the dataset that David Willard generated."
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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