Effects of climate change on avian morphology
Climate change is having direct effects on the capacity of endotherms to regulate body temperature with consequences for individual fitness and population dynamics. One solution to this thermal problem is to adjust the size or shape of morphological traits linked to heat exchange. For example, birds can reduce overall body size to increase surface-area-to-volume ratio, or increase the length of appendages (bills,legs), both of which facilitate more efficient heat loss. Although such adjustment may confer selective advantages, how and which traits change across environmental gradients to optimize thermal performance remains poorly understood.
*** Hons project. Using museum specimens and studies of live birds, this project will investigate morphological variation across a broad environmental gradient in a range of common bird species.