An ecological "footprint" of climate change by Dr. G.-R. Walther, Dipl.-Biol. S. Berger and Prof. MT. Sykes (rspb.2005.3119)
A field survey in southern Scandinavia and north-eastern Germany revealed new occurrences of holly, the only evergreen broad-leaved lower tree species native to central and western Europe, beyond its former northern range margin. This range expansion is in concert with the gradual increase in winter temperature measured at local stations. The synchrony of measured and modelled increases in winter temperatures and observed shifts in species' distribution suggests that climate change is the responsible driver, and makes this species a good (bio-)indicator for global warming.
Contact: Dr. G.-R. Walther, Institute of Geobotany, University of Hannover, Nienburger Str 17, HANNOVER, D-30167, Germany
Behavioural flexibility and migration in temperate Palearctic birds by Dr s Sol, Dr L Lefebvre and Dr. JD Rodriguez-Teijeiro (rspb.2005.3099)
Faced with seasonal changes in the environment, some birds migrate to less severe regions for the winter, while others remain in the same region during the whole year. Why bird species have adopted such different strategies is all the more intriguing. Now an international team of researchers has shown that this may have to do with differences between species in brain size. Big brains are known to enhance the cognitive skills of birds to behaviorally adapt to changes in the environment, and hence might be critical for individuals to survive in seasonal environments. The international team, which was mostly based at McGill University (Canada), tested this hypothesis with a comparative analysis of all passerines that breed in Western Europe. The bigger the species' brain relative to its body size, the higher was the probability that the species was resident, consistent with the idea that enlarged brains function to f
Contact: Tim Watson