Morphological consequences of climate change for resident birds in intact Amazonian rainforest

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Warming from climate change is expected to reduce body size of endotherms, but studies from temperate systems have produced equivocal results. Over four decades, we collected morphometric data on a nonmigratory understory bird community within Amazonian primary rainforest that is experiencing increasingly extreme climate. All 77 species showed lower mean mass since the early 1980s-nearly half with 95% confidence. A third of species concomitantly increased wing length, driving a decrease in mass:wing ratio for 69% of species. Seasonal precipitation patterns were generally better than temperature at explaining morphological variation. Short-term climatic conditions affected all metrics, but time trends in wing and mass:wing remained robust even after controlling for annual seasonal conditions. We attribute these results to pressures to increase resource economy under warming. Both seasonal and long-term morphological shifts suggest response to climate change and highlight its pervasive consequences, even in the heart of the world's largest rainforest.

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Science Advances