Birds adjust their behaviour when it gets hot, seeking out cooler places to help thermoregulate. Determining the conditions under which these behaviour changes are made, and their implications for fitness is central for understanding species’ responses to rising temperatures.
The landscapes within which birds live can be considered as a matrix of microclimates, with each location offering a different thermal environment. The way in which birds use these ‘thermal landscapes’ can determine their exposure to hot temperatures and hence the costs of thermoregulation. Birds experience these thermal landscapes differently, depending on their physical characteristics (e.g. size, shape, colour) and the costs of adjusting their behaviour also vary depending on aspects of their autecology (e.g. diet, foraging mode, nesting habits). Using a combination of direct observation of behaviour across a range of species, and measurements of variation in microclimatic conditions, this project aims to understand variation between species in their behavioural responses to rising temperatures and in turn the implications of climate change for desert bird communities.