Birds up for climate change, says Deakin research

ADAPTABLE: A zebra finsh involved in the Deakin study.

BIRDS might have greater resistance to environmental impacts like climate change than previously thought, according to new Geelong research.
The finding emerged from a study on a bird regarded as “the avian lab rat”, or zebra finch, at Deakin University’s Centre of Integrative Ecology.
Researchers “restricted the diets” of the birds during their first month of life, discovering they fared better than expected.
Associate Professor Kate Buchanan said the finches’ behaviour and physiology were different in later in life.
“This suggests that birds use their early life experiences to adapt their physiological regulatory systems as adults,” said Prof Buchanan.
“This suggests that these animals may be more resistant to stress than we previously thought.
“Stress is part of the natural world, from parasites to unpredictable weather, and environmental stress will be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.
“As our climate changes, birds of the arid zone are predicted to be particularly affected, and as such the zebra finch makes a great model for understanding the effects of long term climate change on Australian birds.”

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