The Springwatch team featured bird nests during last night’s programme and mentioned the recently reported research by Dr Charles Deeming of the School of Life Sciences.

The programme can be found here:

The item featuring Charles’ research starts at 47m into the programme and lasts around three minutes.

Working with Dr Mark Mainwaring at the University of Lancaster and a variety of other colleagues around Britain, Charles was involved in a project that tested the hypothesis that the insulatory properties of blue tit and great tit nests would differ across Britain.

Travelling from north to south, as the weather got warmer it was predicted that nests would get lighter in mass and be less insulated. The results, published on-line last month in the Journal of Biogeography, supported the hypothesis. Charles and his fellow researchers are the first to demonstrate such a relationship.

Charles has been publishing his on-going research on nest function over the past year or so and these new results support his concept that female birds building nests in response to prevailing climatic conditions to suit them rather than their eggs or chicks: if it is cold then they build a well insulated nest that will minimise their heat loss during incubation, which is not required if the weather is warm.

The study of nest function may prove important in understanding how birds respond to climate change. To facilitate collaborative research in this emerging field Charles is organising an international conference Nest Construction & Function 2012 to be held at the Brayford campus in September.