• Question: What do you think will be the next step in evolution for birds?

    Asked by Blathin to Sean on 15 Nov 2014.
    • Photo: Sean Kelly

      Sean Kelly answered on 15 Nov 2014:

      That’s a brilliant question! Of course, it’s also a very difficult one! I think the biggest driver of evolution in the future for bird will be climate change. The environment has a major effect on the evolution of life. And one of the biggest changes to the environment in the future will be climate change. Climate change will make some areas drier, some wetter, some hotter and some colder. That means the birds in these regions will need to adapt to these changes or try to live somewhere else. For example, birds who live in regions that become colder may need to become larger to survive in the cold. Similarly, where it gets hotter, birds might become smaller to avoid heating up so easily and losing energy. Changes in climate may also cause animals to be able to live in new environments. For example, the weather in Europe and around Ireland has been getting slightly warmer and we think this has allowed species such as the Little Egret to now survive in Ireland (as it would have been too cold for them before). Furthermore, climate change will change the birds food resources. If the weather changes and you can no long find food in a region you will have to look elsewhere. Some species will be able to adapt and find new food resources and they will survive. Sadly, however, others will go extinct as the rate of change is simply too fast for them to be able to adapt.

      These are all small and current changes but they will drive the evolution of birds as they will be forced to adapt to new environments and new food resources. Predicted the evolution of birds way into the future is very difficult. It’s fun to think about. Will they become better at using tools? Will some species become flightless? What will become the largest and smallest species and what will they feed on?

      I hope that answers your question