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Say Goodbye to These Great Tits

The world might be without great tits entirely by 2100

We’re going to miss great tits when they’re gone. Great tits are adaptive and resilient, but they can only handle so much: Eventually, great tits may no longer be able to survive the oppressive conditions we’ve placed upon them. If we want to save great tits, we need to start addressing climate change to ensure they can survive. 

Boy do I wish I was talking about some big naturals here, because maybe then people in charge would give a fuck about global warming. But the potential extinction of this cute little bird species isn’t unconnected to the extinction of great tits on humans — the bird may just be the domino that gets knocked down first. 

According to a recent study published in Ecology Letters from researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, climate change may be happening so rapidly that great tits and other bird species might be unable to adapt. This is particularly relevant to their food supply and reproduction — if changes in climate cause the supply of the larvae great tits eat to peak too early, great tits may not have adequate food to feed their offspring by the time they’re born. Should these changes in supply happen slowly, great tits and fellow birds would likely be able to adjust their breeding accordingly. However, if it happens suddenly, their babies might starve, thus essentially ceasing growth of the entire population.

Per the researchers’ findings, great tits are nearly guaranteed to go extinct by 2100, should larvae appear 24 days earlier in the season than they do now, as worst-case-scenario models predict. What’s most frightening about this prediction is that the great tit species and similar birds aren’t even yet considered threatened — currently, the great tit has a conservation status of “least concern.” 

What this data primarily shows is that even creatures we consider stable could be subject to annihilation as the result of subtle shifts in their ecosystem. Great tits are only one example. Maybe the prospect of losing the bird doesn’t concern you, but it’s only a matter of time before climate change brings the end of the great tits you do care about.

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