A new study finds that climate change have affected birds' tuft to a reversal evolution. Normally male flycatchers grow a sparkling white patch on their forehead the bird uses this patch to attract mate during mating seasons. The patch is also used as a warning signal to its rivals. The bigger the patch the more attractive and more appealing it should be.
But a major new study of collared flycatchers on the Baltic island of Gotland, suggest that birds become lesser attractive due to climate change. The study spanning from 30 years shows dramatic reversal of evolution of these birds. Where the once known attractive patch that helps male flycatchers reproduce, now has a negative effect. This causes the path to become smaller.
Researchers say that other researches suggest that this is a result of ornamentation that could be happening all over Europe and affecting other animals. A study shows that over the years from 1981 to 2014, the average temperature in Gotland rose by 1.5 degrees Celsius. And the warm weather was connected to patches’ size. After a cold spring highly ornamented males did well, but after a warm spring things has changed. The balance of power between small and large-patched males finally switched in the late 1990s.
The precise reason of the dramatic change has not yet been established, but biologist suggests that the evolutionary pros and cons of elaborate ornamentation to attract a mate versus taking consider the survival rate of the specie. For example, is the patch, growing eye catching patch could have higher chances of reproducing, however, the patch could also be eye catching for predators. According to the Independent, Highly ornamented males were selectively favored following cold breeding seasons, but because of climate change the effect was reversed during a warm breeding season.
According to the Yahoo News, the reversal effect could also be affecting other species because global warming is experience globally. The authors found that males with large forehead patches had higher fitness than males with small patches in the early years of the study. Climate change has turned this lovely birds into ugly birds.