A common potoo (Nyctibius griseus) perched on a wooden post next to a farm remains lethargic throughout the hottest hours of the day to cope with high environmental heat as well as arising hyperthermia.
The elevated, and seemingly low-variable, temperature conditions in the world’s tropical regions have long been considered as key factors for the biotic response to global warming, ringing the alarms in the scientific community. In the case of birds, however, empirical evidence has grown in the past decades contrasting the traditional notion of high physiological sensitivity to thermal variation. So, is it really getting too hot for birds in Tropics and, if so, how? In our integrative paper, we review published scientific literature and argue that tropical birds seem to have the capacity to handle thermal variation and high levels of heat, as shown during thermo-tolerance experiments. Nevertheless, their vulnerability under natural conditions might increase when considering the joint effects of high heat and humidity, plus the disturbance of natural habitats and the disruption of microclimates due to anthropogenic activities.
The paper “Physiologically vulnerable or resilient? Tropical birds, global warming, and redistributions” can be freely accessed (OA) through this link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.9985