Climate Crisis Shape Shifting vs Natural Diversity

Jim Steele

Explores the false reporting in the paper “Shape-shifting: changing animal morphologies as a response to climatic warming” and details why bird beaks change shape that’s unrelated to a climate crisis

Jim Steele sent in this video to post but I also received a tip about this study from a reader.

The warming climate is causing animals to ‘shapeshift’

Climate change is not only a human problem; animals have to adapt to it as well. Some “warm-blooded” animals are shapeshifting and getting larger beaks, legs, and ears to better regulate their body temperatures as the planet gets hotter. Bird researcher Sara Ryding of Deakin University in Australia describes these changes in a review published September 7th in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

“A lot of the time when climate change is discussed in mainstream media, people are asking ‘can humans overcome this?’, or ‘what technology can solve this?’. It’s high time we recognized that animals also have to adapt to these changes, but this is occurring over a far shorter timescale than would have occurred through most of evolutionary time,” says Ryding. “The climate change that we have created is heaping a whole lot of pressure on them, and while some species will adapt, others will not.”

Ryding notes that climate change is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that’s been occurring progressively, so it is difficult to pinpoint just one cause of the shapeshifting. But these changes have been occurring across wide geographical regions and among a diverse array of species, so there is little in common apart from climate change.

Strong shapeshifting has particularly been reported in birds. Several species of Australian parrot have shown, on average, a 4%-10% increase in bill size since 1871, and this is positively correlated with the summer temperature each year. North American dark-eyed juncos, a type of small songbird, had a link between increased bill size and short-term temperature extremes in cold environments. There have also been reported changes in mammalian species. Researchers have reported tail length increases in wood mice and tail and leg size increases in masked shrews.

Full article here.

HT/Gregory W

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jon
September 10, 2021 2:21 am

Well, it does correlate with the greening of the planet from a return to more normal levels of CO2 doesn’t it?
Maybe this “shapeshifting” – previously known as Evolution – is a sign of increased well-being.

Reply to  jon
September 10, 2021 5:09 am

Correlate?

Merriam Webster:

correlate verb

cor·​re·​late | \ ˈkȯr-ə-ˌlāt  , ˈkär- \

correlatedcorrelating

Definition of correlate (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

to bear reciprocal or mutual relations CORRESPOND

If two things correlate, a change in one thing results in a similar or opposite change in the other thing.

transitive verb

1ato establish a mutual or reciprocal relation between

correlate activities in the lab and the field

bto show correlation or a causal relationship between

There is no evidence correlating height and intelligence.

2to present or set forth so as to show relationship”

No relationship identified, just assumed.
No correlation proven.
Coincidental similarity does not prove or imply correlation.

Relationship must be identified, demonstrated and proven before researchers start to imply their data implies correlated.

Richard Page
Reply to  ATheoK
September 10, 2021 9:46 am

Correlation is not causation.

Observer
Reply to  Richard Page
September 11, 2021 3:38 pm

Don’t The Deniers realise that the correct beak length for all birds was set precisely at 17:15 June 12th 1852, at the very end of the LIA?

September 10, 2021 2:22 am

If birds have to much “kernel” heat, they open a “thermic window” spreading their countour plumes completely to regulate their temperature. Or They turn the body to get wind from backside blowing under the plumes, or opne their beak, or all at once.

Found only a German link:
III. Physiologie 1. Aspekte zur Wärmeregulation
Physiology, aspects of temperature regulation. Starts with warming in cold temperature – see photos.
A serious scientist would mesure the effect on temperature with shorter or longer beak or what ever they believe may cool down a birds temperature.
In general parrot beaks are used for climbing and eating, a way the beak shortens by abrasion.
There are a lot of reasons for longer beaks, not enough abrasion for different reasons, not enough vitamine A, or by defect or illness, wrong diet.

MarkW
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 4:01 am

Is there any blood supply in beaks? If not, it’s nearly impossible for beaks to play a role in thermal regulation.

fretslider
Reply to  MarkW
September 10, 2021 4:22 am

The proximal part – the part of the beak closest to the bird – does and also nerve endings. But that’s it

Reply to  MarkW
September 10, 2021 4:22 am

At least there are nerves.

Jim Steele
Reply to  MarkW
September 10, 2021 4:55 am

Beaks are heavily vascularized and formed from hardened integumentary layers (skin cells) The outer layers of the beak are constantly being replace to counter wear and tear. Veterinarians often find pet parrots, cockatoos, etc have overgrown beaks and need to have their beaks trimmed If a bird doesn’t have enough activity due or lacks adequate “chew toys”

Reply to  Jim Steele
September 10, 2021 5:37 am

Those that raise flocks of rather pugnacious birds (gallinaceous), i.e. chickens, pheasants, even quail, often resort to beak trimming to prevent aggressive birds (chicks) from injuring other birds.

Trimmed too far and the bird (chick) can die from blood loss. Stopping the bleeding isn’t easy, plus other chicks peck at the dried blood restarting the bleeding.

Some chickens we raised, learned that they can bully people. Any skin exposed on the foot gives the bird a place to attack. These roosters pecked at a person’s foot, often causing bleeding. It was not unusual to see somebody running with a rooster chasing them.

It did reduce the amount of door to door salespeople ringing our bell.

Allegedly dumb birds, they quickly learned and avoided people who kicked as a response.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  ATheoK
September 10, 2021 8:23 am

Chickens are very aggressive and will peck at anything smaller than they are. Feet are a favorite target and they will peck the feet that are supporting the body that is carrying their food!

.KcTaz
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
September 10, 2021 12:18 pm

Not quite true, Pamela. My daughter has chickens. She had one I called Attila the Hen. I am much larger than Attila but she routinely pecked me if I’m anywhere near her. She, also, terrorized my daughter’s two pit bulls. She would stand at the back door glaring at them as if to say, “Come on out pups, make my day!”

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  .KcTaz
September 10, 2021 1:26 pm

Snort! Yes, you are correct, chickens tend to be fearless and will unwisely challenge creatures capable of causing them terminal harm.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Jim Steele
September 10, 2021 7:14 am

Birds in captivity (like parakeets) also need to have their toenails trimmed for the same reason.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  MarkW
September 10, 2021 8:20 am

I have often observed birds opening their beaks when overheated. This is similar to panting in dogs and cats. Their mouths are wet so there is cooling from evaporation. There is a blood supply in beaks but the size of the beak probably has a lot to do with the amount of blood supply.

bill Johnston
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 7:43 am

Or maybe longer beaks are needed for the bird to feed. Such as wading birds. Egrets, herons and the like.

September 10, 2021 2:24 am

Best adaptation for warming:
comment image

September 10, 2021 2:25 am

Climate-related spatial and temporal variation in bill morphology over the past century in Australian parrots (2015)Allen’s rule posits that the appendages of endothermic organisms will be larger in warmer climates to allow for dumping of heat loads. Given a link between appendage size and climate, we tested the prediction that climate change has driven the evolution of larger bills in birds, resulting in measurable changes over the recent past.

September 10, 2021 2:25 am

Shape-shifting: changing animal morphologiesas a response to climatic warming

Many animal appendages, such as avian beaks and mammalian ears, can beused to dissipate excess body heat. Allen’s rule, wherein animals in warmerclimates have larger appendages to facilitate more efficient heat exchange, reflectsthis. Wefind that there is widespread evidence of‘shape-shifting’(changes in ap-pendage size) in endotherms in response to climate change and its associated cli-matic warming. We re-examine studies ofmorphological change over time within athermoregulatory context,finding evidence that temperature can be a strongpredictor of morphological change independently of,or combined with, other envi-ronmental changes. Last, we discuss how Allen’s rule, the degree of temperaturechange, and other ecological factors facilitate morphological change and makepredictions about what animalswill show shape-shifting.

Ed Hanley
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 2:41 am

It may well be that Sturgeon’s Law applies here.

MarkW
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 4:02 am

Correlation does not prove causation. Unless you really, really want it to.

Reply to  MarkW
September 10, 2021 5:57 am

It doesn’t appear that they are anywhere near demonstrating correlation.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 5:57 am

The changes in appendage are alleged to be caused by approximately 1°C temperature change since 1850 that is mostly manifested in higher night temperature maximums and in winter maximums.

In environments where daily temperature movement is up to 30°F and shifts between seasons are over a similar range.
Meaning the authors allege that a miniscule temperature change in an environment, where the diurnal and annual temperature ranges are massively larger, causes appendages to grow larger…

Any alleged measured changes are surely within diurnal and annual data error bounds, unless the authors can reliably cause appendages to grow larger or shrink in response to tenths of a degree.

MarkW
Reply to  ATheoK
September 10, 2021 6:34 am

Beyond that, since CO2 absorption bands mostly overlap the H2O absorbtion bands, any place (like the tropics) that has a lot of water in the air, is going to see little if any warming from more CO2.

fretslider
September 10, 2021 4:10 am

Just when you think they can’t get any more delusional, they falsify that notion.

“larger beaks, legs, and ears to better regulate their body temperatures as the planet gets hotter”

They missed something well known to, er, man:

“Men’s average height ‘up 11cm since 1870s

For British men, the average height at age 21 rose from 167.05cm (5ft 5in) in 1871-75 to 177.37cm (5ft 10in) in 1971-75. A public health expert said height was a “useful barometer” but it was crucial to focus on improving health overall.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23896855

So human ‘shape-shifting’ is about better health, not some imaginary climate catastrophe or getting hotter after 1950.

But hey, let’s spin it out for at least another ten years

“it should be noted that the majority of findings focus on endotherms (particularly birds), with far less research available for other taxa. In order to better understand this phenomenon, research on shape-shifting needs to be complemented with studies on selection and genetic evolution. “

https://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/fulltext/S0169-5347(21)00197-X#relatedArticles

There’s the plea for more funding. Personally, I wouldn’t give tuppence to anyone using language like shapeshifting…

“Shapeshifters are inorganic, human hybrids from the Alternate Universe. Also known as the First Wave, the shapeshifters were created with the aid of William Bell to infiltrate the Prime Universe and lay the groundwork for a full-scale invasion that would result in the destruction of the Prime Universe in favor of saving the Alternate Universe from complete destruction. “

https://fringe.fandom.com/wiki/Shapeshifters

This isn’t Fringe science, it’s delusional and not even science.

Last edited 11 days ago by fretslider
jono1066
Reply to  fretslider
September 10, 2021 5:31 am

wrong in so many ways
Mans height has only increased to allow him to see over all the grass thats growing faster and taller due to pollution by CO2
survival of the fittest ?

Alan M
Reply to  jono1066
September 10, 2021 6:03 pm

“Mans height has only increased to allow him to see over all the grass thats growing faster and taller due to pollution by CO2”
But that’s only relevant to the wherethefarcarewe tribe

MarkW
Reply to  fretslider
September 10, 2021 6:37 am

Shapeshifters are inorganic, human hybrids from the Alternate Universe

Commander Odo disagrees, they are from the Delta quadrant.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odo_(Star_Trek)

fretslider
Reply to  MarkW
September 10, 2021 7:30 am

Nothing is ever settled…

John Garrett
September 10, 2021 4:22 am

Naturally, the “catastrophic/dangerous, CO2-driven anthropogenic global warming/climate change” propagandists of NPR are yelling and screaming about shape-shifting.

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/09/1035503769/climate-change-animals-shape-shift-australia

It’s one reason (among many) that I no longer listen to or trust NPR.

Jim Gorman
September 10, 2021 4:28 am

Something I learned in high school biology from studying evolution. Bird beak shape and size is also related to the available seeds and fruits they eat. Birds with small beaks can more easily obtain small seeds and fruits. Larger seeds and fruits require larger beaks shaped to most easily obtain them.

Wonder what CO2 fertilization does to the size of seeds and fruits? I would expect larger sizes which could require larger beaks. Beware confirmation bias leading to the conclusion you begin with. A study like this should emphasize correlation only, not 100% causation.

Reply to  Jim Gorman
September 10, 2021 4:37 am

Birds with small beaks can more easily obtain small seeds and fruits
.
Don’t forget insects.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 6:08 am

“Duck on a June bug”

There are a lot of large bugs out there.
Chickens will eat anything that moves and many things that don’t.
Those with smaller beaks peck off pieces of large critters. Those with larger beaks get the whole bug or at least larger pieces.

June bugs fly between 2-3 feet off the ground when mating and looking for a place to lay eggs.
Spotted by a duck, ducks will relentlessly pursue the June bug.

It would appear that June bugs are tasty… Only my ducks eat every Japanese beetle they can. Japanese beetles are bitter. We won’t eat any duck eggs during Japanese beetle season.

Reply to  ATheoK
September 10, 2021 7:08 am

I saw chicken hunt and eat sparrows.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 8:30 am

Interesting. Sparrows go inside my chicken enclosure to steal food. Thus far I have not noticed any sparrow feathers blowing around. But give them time, the ravenous beasts just recently realized that garden snails are tasty treats….

Ruleo
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 7:33 pm

I’ve seen seagulls catch and swallow adult rabbits…

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ATheoK
September 10, 2021 7:23 am

While reorganizing a shed out back of my house, I came across a nest of young roof rats. My Rhodesian Ridgeback immediately dispatched (with prejudice) all of them, and then left them. I tossed them out into the yard where I had a half-dozen chickens foraging. They began fighting over access to the bodies. When they managed to get one, and get away from the other chickens, they would tilt their heads up and swallow them whole.

From that experience, I don’t think it would be a good idea to take a nap on the ground near a flock of chickens! They are like feathered velociraptors.

hiskorr
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 6:32 am

And grubs/worms.

Reply to  Jim Gorman
September 10, 2021 7:51 am

If I look at the “face” of a chicken:
comment image
No plumes around the strong beak, able to attack and injure other animals, in my eyes chicken are flying pigs, eating what ever they get.

Last edited 11 days ago by Krishna Gans
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 7:52 am

So I like chicken:
comment image

Mike O
September 10, 2021 4:41 am

The best part is that any shrinkage in body parts would also be reversely correlated with temperatures and no doubt considered a deleterious effect of climate change. I wonder if any of these animals have evolved as a result of contacts with humans, habitat loss or any of a hundred other changes since 1870.

September 10, 2021 4:54 am

Another reason for changed bill morphology:

Bill morphology and neutral genetic structure both predict variation in acoustic signals within a bird population (2017)

Abstract
Adaptive evolutionary divergence within a population can be facilitated by associated divergence in mating signals. Acoustic signals are often involved in mate choice and are also known to diverge spatially in response to a variety of processes. In birds, for instance, variation in bill size and shape can result in correlated changes in vocalizations due to functional constraints on sound production. Acoustic signals can also vary spatially in relation to neutral genetic structure (due to cultural drift) and/or habitat structure (due to acoustic adaptation for optimal sound transmission). Here, we test these alternative hypotheses as causes of variation in acoustic signal structure in the Island Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma insularis), a species that is restricted to one small island (Santa Cruz Island, CA) and exhibits spatial genetic structure and microgeographic divergence in bill morphology across short distances and habitat types. We find that bill morphology is related to the structure of the female “rattle” call, a vocalization associated with territorial disputes and male–female interactions. Females with longer, shallower bills produced calls that were more rapid, and those with shallower bills also produced calls that were lower in frequency. In addition, rattle rapidity varied across the island in accordance with neutral genetic structure. Vocal characteristics were not related to habitat structure, suggesting that variation in rattle calls is unlikely to reflect optimization for sound transmission. Our findings indicate that selection on bill morphology and cultural drift can jointly shape variation in acoustic signal structure, even at fine spatial scales within populations.

Last edited 11 days ago by Krishna Gans
Joao Martins
Reply to  Krishna Gans
September 10, 2021 5:24 am

variation in acoustic signal structure in the Island Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma insularis), a species that is restricted to one small island (Santa Cruz Island, CA)”

It had to be in California!…

Beware, unplumed Californian biped parrots, with climate change you will have the competition of the plumed parrots!…

… Anthropogenic speaking-birds catastrophe???

Last edited 11 days ago by Joao Martins
September 10, 2021 5:00 am

Ryding notes that climate change is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that’s been occurring progressively, so it is difficult to pinpoint just one cause of the shapeshifting. But these changes have been occurring across wide geographical regions and among a diverse array of species, so there is little in common apart from climate change.”

More junk science based upon ignorance, Confirmation Bias, bad statistics and gross assumptions.
Classic Argumentum ad Ignorantiam, argument based upon ignorance.
In this case, the author does not know so assumes their default attribution, “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, global warming, climate change, climate silliness…

Strong shapeshifting has particularly been reported in birds. Several species of Australian parrot have shown, on average, a 4%-10% increase in bill size since 1871, and this is positively correlated with the summer temperature each year.”

A) Correlation is not causation! Apparently is beyond these researchers.
i) The article leaves the reader with strong doubt that any “correlation” was proven.

Bird researcher Sara Ryding of Deakin University in Australia describes these changes in a review published September 7th in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.”

Looks to be another ‘Press Release’ publication attempt to insinuate the importance of the researchers baseless assumptions find future funding. Plus, achieve that alleged 15 minutes of glory.

MarkW
Reply to  ATheoK
September 10, 2021 6:41 am

Buried in that is the assumption that nature is perfect and unchanging.
Therefore if you observe a change, it must somehow be caused by man and is definitely bad.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ATheoK
September 10, 2021 7:41 am

As is usual for articles relating to climatology, there is no mention of the uncertainty range for measurements. Similarly, the correlations (only referred to obliquely with the squared values) don’t have uncertainties either! As it is, they show r-squared values of 0.01 and 0.005, meaning that only one-half percent in the “appendage” variance is explained by the average global temperature change.

MarkW
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 10, 2021 9:23 am

There is also no indication of whether there has been any warming in the places where these birds live.
There’s just the assumption that if the whole earth is warming, then each and every spot on the planet must have warmed as well.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
September 10, 2021 2:19 pm

Yes! My guess is that places like the Sahara Desert and the Tibetan Plateau, with dry air, are probably warming (at night) more than humid areas.

Jim Steele
September 10, 2021 5:10 am

I’ve been trying to read all the referenced papers that Ryding’s horrific paper cited.One that she and the media mention is worth reading

the North American dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) shows an association between increased bill size and short-term relative temperature extremes in typically cold environments

I have handled and monitored juncos for 30 years and have seen no sign of change, other than the fact that they like open spaces and leave when it gets overgrown

The 2020 paper Ryding refers to Context-dependent effects of relative temperature extremes on bill morphology in a songbird”, actually contradicts Ryding’s climate fear mongering and supports the need for good ecological analyses to understand beak changes! Alarmists are so dishonest!

When environmental context amplified the RTE, we found a negative relationship between SA [beak Surface Area] and RTE [measure of short-term relative temperature extremity]. We also found that the strength of associations between SA and RTE increased with precipitation. Our results suggest that trait responses to environmental variation may qualitatively differ depending on the overall environmental context, and that environmental change that extremifies already-extreme environments may produce responses that cannot be predicted from observations in less-extreme contexts.

Scissor
September 10, 2021 5:13 am

“…as the planet gets hotter” supposes that the planet is already hot.

Most would agree that it’s hot in some places at least some of the time, but this is not true for most places. Objectively, and compared to earlier times, the planet is mostly cold, or perhaps cool.

jono1066
September 10, 2021 5:38 am

Dont mention the Darwin moth !
now was that the plant that adapted to the moth or the moth that adapted to the plant or did the moth have to change as all the other food sources were gone
it only took them 20 years to find it after Darwin said it existed.

Oh, he also talked about shape shifting of bird beaks and that back in the 1860`s so it must be much worse now

Carlo, Monte
September 10, 2021 7:10 am

Yesterday before dawn at this location the air temperature got down to 48F (9C), but the afternoon high hit a record 96F (36C). This change of 48F or 27C happened without strong downslope winds or a frontal passage. Today, the low was 52F (11C) and another record high of 97F is forecast. Aerosols from fire smoke have been very dense for the past several days.

This CO2 magic molecule does a really poor job of trapping heat.

Clyde Spencer
September 10, 2021 7:56 am

The actual research paper does, notably, remark, “One complication of studies that examine morphological change over long time frames is that the causes of change have many potential explanatory variables. It is therefore not surprising that temperature-based explanations of changes might be considered secondary to other factors.” Yet, they emphasize the role of temperature. They are basically saying that the bills of birds may change by up to 10% for an ambient temperature change of less than 5% Celsius degrees, or less than 1% Kelvin.

However, their work is sloppy. It appears that they are correlating average global temperature changes with animals for specific and different regions that have temperature changes different from the global average.

They are talking about ridiculously low r-squared values in the range of 0.005 to 0.01, without mentioning what the uncertainty ranges are for the original beak measurements or the derived correlation coefficient(r). An r-squared value of 0.005 means that only one-half percent of the variance in the bird bills can be explained or predicted by their chosen covariate. This is hand waving!

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 10, 2021 8:38 am

When looking around in different papers it’s seen, that f.e. humidity seems to be an important factor for beak size change, at least as important as temperature if not even more.

Jeff Alberts
September 10, 2021 10:07 am

Climate change is not only a human problem; animals have to adapt to it as well.”

It’s hard to imagine a more idiotic statement. Animals will adapt to whatever their local climate does. Period. If they don’t, and can’t survive as a result, that’s called nature.

Gunga Din
September 10, 2021 3:07 pm

“A lot of the time when climate change is discussed in mainstream media, people are asking ‘can humans overcome this?’, or ‘what technology can solve this?’

The better question, “Why hasn’t any of the “C”s projected 30 years ago to happen in 10 or 12 years by those who promoted CAGW then actually happened?”

Last edited 11 days ago by Gunga Din
John in Oz
September 10, 2021 7:42 pm

The Adelaide Hills has been plagued with many hundreds/thousands of parrots for several years. They are extremely proficient at destroying many parts of houses and other structures.

Perhaps the development of stronger building materials has caused these parrots to grow larger beaks in order to continue to destroy everything they perch on.

Send money for my study on this topic.

Thommo
September 11, 2021 12:31 am

So if climate change is resulting in “shape shifting” (what a horrible term) – so scientific, then the results of this scientific “investigation” should be prevalent across the natural world, i.e. other countries. I’d like to see data across the world to see if this is the case, not just a small snapshot.

Dave Andrews
September 11, 2021 7:33 am

Helena Horton covered this in an article in the Guardian on 8th September. She quotes Ryding thus

“The increase in appendage size we see so far are quite small – less than 10% – so the changes are unlikely to be immediately noticeable.” and “However prominent appendages such as ears are predicted to increase, so we might end up with a live- action Dumbo in the not-so-distant future”

Not sure if she was serious or it was a joke that passed Helena by.

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