Recent research carried out by scientists including several members of the Centre for Ornithology was featured on the BBC Springwatch programme on Wednesday 6 June 2012.
Dr Jim Reynolds, Kaat Brulez and Simone Webber of the Centre for Ornithology within the School of Biosciences have been examining the effects of latitudinal variation in spring temperatures on nest characteristics, including insulatory properties, and reproductive success of blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus, and great tits, Parus major. In carrying out this research, nests and reproductive data were collected from seven study sites, spread over 5 degrees of latitude. The nest insulatory properties were then determined
before the nests were separated into nest base material and cup lining material.
The results showed that as spring temperatures increased with decreasing latitude, the mass of the nest base material did not vary in either species, while the mass of the cup
lining material and nest insulatory properties decreased in both species. Therefore, nest composition reliably indicates environmental conditions and the results suggest that studies of nest structure may be sentinels for the early signs of rapid climate change.
The full paper can be read online here
For a limited period you can watch episode 7 of the latest series of Springwatch via the link below - the research mentioned above features from about 47 minutes into the programme.