CIE Spotlight: How does nest-box temperature affect nestling growth rate and breeding success in a parrot?

Justin E., Mathew B., Kate B. & Andy B.
Justin E., Mathew B., Kate B. & Andy B.

Title: How does nest-box temperature affect nestling growth rate and breeding success in a parrot?

Authors: Larson, Eliza R.; Eastwood, Justin R.; Buchanan, Katherine L.; Bennett, Andrew T. D.; Berg, Mathew L.

Source: EMU, 115 (3):247-255; May 2015

Brief summary of the paper: Climate change is predicted to affect many species by reducing range, habitat suitability and breeding success. Cavity-nesting species, already threatened by deforestation and declining natural hollows, may be particularly at risk because they are limited in nest-site location, and climatic alterations may further reduce usability of natural cavities.

It is therefore essential to determine how cavity-users may be affected. We recorded internal nest box temperatures and modelled the relationships of four temperature parameters (relating to mean temperature, variability in temperature, low temperature extremes and high temperature extremes) with breeding success and nestling growth in an Australian cavity-nesting parrot, the Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans).

We found that less extreme low temperatures resulted in heavier nestlings; however, higher mean temperatures tended to result in lighter nestlings. Greater temperature variability tended to reduce fledging success; however, no temperature variables had a clear effect on clutch size or hatching success.

Our findings indicate that there may be a complex relationship between nestling growth and temperature, and although less extreme cold temperatures may benefit nestlings, continued increases in mean temperature and variability may have negative consequences.