A recent genetic discovery has revealed that the pale grey plumage of the tawny owl is linked to crucial functions that aid the bird's survival in cold environments. As global temperatures rise, dark brown plumage is likely to become more common in tawny owls living in colder areas.
In all vertebrates, mothers transfer variable amounts of hormones into eggs and embryos, which influence development and traits of offspring in later lives. In a recent study the researchers looked at the transferred hormones in different bird species eggs, and found a hundredfold difference in the thyroid hormones, which control development and growth in birds. Migratory and precocial bird species provide the highest levels of thyroid hormones to their offspring.
DNP, a weight loss agent withdrawn from the market in the late 1930s due to acute toxicity, has become increasingly popular in recent years through online illegal sales. A new study using a lifelong DNP treatment in an avian model found that while no obvious toxic effects were detected on the short to medium-term, DNP reduces lifespan by 20% on the long run.
Climate change pushes species distribution areas northward. However, the expansion of species ranges is not self-evident due to e.g. habitat degradation and unsustainable harvesting caused by human activities. A new study led from the University of Turku suggests that protected areas can facilitate wintering waterbird adaptation to climate warming by advancing their range shifts towards north.