Endangered seabird shows surprising individual flexibility to adapt to climate change

February 03, 2024

For Europe’s most endangered seabird, the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), a new study has revealed that individual behavioural flexibility and not evolutionary selection is driving this species’ rapid migratory range shift. The results also suggest that individual animals may have greater behavioural flexibility to respond to climate change impacts than previously thought, although this behavioural adaptation may have hidden costs, making the long-term impact on this species unclear. It was unknown, however, whether this change was being driven by individual birds altering their behaviour, or through natural selection favouring birds that travel further. This revealed that individual birds were shifting their range northwards by an average of 25km per year. The study ‘Climate change drives migratory range shift via individual plasticity in shearwaters’ has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The source of this news is from University of Oxford