Effects of climate change
With extreme caution, Jaroslaw Nowakowski out of a suspended network of a tree a copy of the smallest bird of Europe and takes it to the laboratory to ascertain how climate change has changed this species. This kinglet, weighing only 4.5 grams, was caught in the net while flying over thousands of migratory birds this pine forest of Polish Vistula peninsula in the Baltic. Nowakowski, an ornithologist at the University of Gdansk, which travels in a small cotton bag to a laboratory installed in a tent. " We could ask ourselves why we studied for 55 years the same birds. But it is that even in such a short time, they have evolved: the shape of their wings has changed, as have adapted to the new conditions they have imposed climate change, urbanization and deforestation " he says. " The evolution happening before our eyes. It is not a story of dinosaurs ". Nowakowski carefully studying the bird, it measures its wings and feathers and legs and tail. Then places a ring with a number, before releasing it to continue their migration to the south or western Europe. " We studied the birds with the same methods " for 55 years without interruption and that " has allowed us to create the largest and most comprehensive basis of continuous data in the world, " says this doctor in biology and head of the project. Nowakowski notes that " in some species, the pointed shape of the wing, more streamlined and adapted for long journeys, has changed and is now more rounded, indicated for short-haul flights ". A phenomenon attributed to climate change. If global warming and the surface of the Sahara persists continues to expand, some species will fail to fly over this desert. And if the weather is quenched, can not migrate to warmer areas, he says. " Thanks to our studies, we put the evidence on the table and alerted public opinion. But without major effects in general ... " he laments. With its 96 km long, narrow Vistula Spit between the Baltic Sea and a bay is next to Gibraltar and the Bosporus one of the best known migratory sites. " Here are three migratory routes intersect, " says Nowakowski. A ring pâté Polish ornithologists anneal about 50,000 birds a year in the three study centers on the Baltic coast, especially the smaller ones, as passerine species. That allows them to also note another danger for birds: hunting, illegal or not, in the Mediterranean. For example, in France, Greece and Italy, snipe meat is coveted by " foodies ". " Sometimes we return the rings, it is a rule sent to the countries of origin. More than a Frenchman had to sink your teeth " in one of them, as in the case in which sometimes shipped specifies that was found in a terrine, explains. In the forest, the work continues. Ornithologists, helped by fifteen volunteers, control 50 networks every hour. Also overnight, since a trapped bird would not survive until dawn. " There are days when we grasp just thirty birds, other between one and two thousand. We did not sleep much. Without volunteers, we could not do our studies, " says Nowakowski.