Scientists Moved Hummingbirds to High Elevations to See How Climate Change Might Affect Them

Anna's hummingbirds, endemic to the west coast of North America, flutter across California's lowlands before summering higher up.

According to Inverse's Tara Yarlagadda, a warmer climate may make it tougher for tiny species to relocate to higher ground, and the bright bird may not adapt. A Journal of Experimental Biology research published this week found that.   

David Nield of Science Alert explains that animals may experience cooler temperatures and thinner, less oxygen-rich air when they climb higher to escape the heat. Because to environmental changes, humans have displaced Anne's hummingbirds (Calypte anna).

"Anna's hummingbirds are a great study system because they've already changed their life history because of humans," Spence explains. Warmer conditions have propelled hummingbirds to higher ground.  

Science Alert reports that hummingbirds' high-energy lifestyles and ability to adapt to many climatic conditions make them good models for study. The birds now live at 10–2,800 feet.  

Inverse claims that researchers transferred 26 Anna's hummingbirds from all normal elevation ranges to 12,467 feet above sea level and tracked their oxygen levels while they ate or rested to explore their adaptability.  

According to Science Alert, scientists evaluated hummingbirds' oxygen consumption while eating from syrup-filled funnels using a modified feeder that required them to wear breathing masks.  

The study observed that hummingbirds stored energy by decreasing their metabolism by increasing torpor in response to the cooler temperature.  

Inverse said they lowered their heart rate. When hovering, birds had a decreased metabolic rate, or energy consumption. Low oxygen and air pressure at high elevation reduced birds' energy efficiency and ability to fly.