Experimental warming during incubation improves cold tolerance of Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) chicks

Page, J. L., Nord, A., Dominoni, D. M. and McCafferty, D. J. (2022) Experimental warming during incubation improves cold tolerance of Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) chicks. Journal of Experimental Biology, 225(10), jeb243933. (doi: 10.1242/jeb.243933) (PMID:35470386) (PMCID:PMC9206450)

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Climate change and increasing air temperature may alter environmental conditions for developing birds, with a range of phenotypic consequences for offspring. The thermal environment during incubation may impact the trade-off between growth and thermoregulation, but the effects of temperature on the ontogeny of endothermy are not fully understood. We therefore experimentally tested whether heating the nest cup of Eurasian Blue Tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) during incubation would influence cold tolerance of the chicks after hatching. Chicks from both heated and control nests showed a decrease in cooling rate with age as they became increasingly endothermic and homeothermic. However, chicks from previously heated nests cooled at a lower rate per unit surface area and from across the whole body. These chicks also had a greater body mass during the first 12 days of life, compared to chicks from control nests. Lower cooling rates in heated chicks may reflect greater thermogenic capacity or a reduced surface area to volume ratio due to a greater body mass. Future projections for climate change predict rising air temperature and increased likelihood of heatwaves, even in temperate regions. Our results indicate that nest microclimate can impact thermoregulation in offspring, and thus may be used to predict some of the future physiological responses of birds to climate change during breeding.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was financially supported by the University of Glasgow and by a UK NERC grant to DMD (NE/S005773/1), the Royal Physiographic Society of Lund / The Birgit and Hellmuth Hertz Foundation (to AN, grant no. 2017-39034) and the Swedish Research Council (to AN grant. no. 2020-04686).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McCafferty, Dr Dominic and Page, Ms Jennifer and Nord, Dr Andreas and Dominoni, Dr Davide
Authors: Page, J. L., Nord, A., Dominoni, D. M., and McCafferty, D. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Journal of Experimental Biology
Publisher:Company of Biologists
ISSN (Online):1477-9145
Published Online:26 April 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Company of Biologists Ltd
First Published:First published in Journal of Experimental Biology 225(10): jeb243933
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
303242Unravelling the impact of artificial light at night on circadian disruption, immunity, and infection riskDavide DominoniNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/S005773/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine