How birds cope physiologically and behaviourally with extreme climatic events


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simeon.lisovski [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

As global climate change progresses, the occurrence of potentially disruptiveclimatic events such as storms are increasing in frequency, duration and inten-sity resulting in higher mortality and reduced reproductive success. Whatconstitutes an extreme climatic event? First we point out that extreme climaticevents in biological contexts can occur in any environment. Focusing on fieldand laboratory data on wild birds we propose a mechanistic approach to defin-ing and investigating what extreme climatic events are and how animals copewith them at physiological and behavioural levels. The life cycle of birds ismade up of life-history stages such as migration, breeding and moult thatevolved to match a range of environmental conditions an individual mightexpect during the year. When environmental conditions deteriorate anddeviate from the expected range then the individual must trigger copingmechanisms (emergency life-history stage) that will disrupt the temporal pro-gression of life-history stages, but enhance survival. Using the framework ofallostasis, we argue that an extreme climatic event in biological contexts canbe defined as when the cumulative resources available to an individual areexceeded by the sum of its energetic costs—a state called allostatic overload.This allostatic overload triggers the emergency life-history stage that tempor-arily allows the individual to cease regular activities in an attempt to surviveextreme conditions. We propose that glucocorticoid hormones play a majorrole in orchestrating coping mechanisms and are critical for enduring extremeclimatic events.This article is part of the themed issue ‘Behavioural, ecological andevolutionary responses to extreme climatic events’.



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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Published
Eprint ID
52145
DOI 10.1098/rstb.2016.0140

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Wingfield, J. C. , Pérez, J. H. , Krause, J. S. , Word, K. R. , González-Gómez, P. L. , Lisovski, S. and Chmura, H. E. (2017): How birds cope physiologically and behaviourally with extreme climatic events , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 372 (1723), p. 20160140 . doi: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0140


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