'Early vs late' [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Subject: 'Early vs late' [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
From: "Whitworth, Benjamin - BRS" <>
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 2010 15:17:23 +1000

Was walking by the Academy of Sciences today and saw a pair of Wood ducks with 5 chicks., a few days old. Is that ‘early or late’ breeding. These arguments come up every year, with coments in the last few years that woodducks breeding in June mainly being ‘early’ (whereas I would always consider them to be ‘late’) Also, my observation of Brown treecreepers hanging around a hollow the other day, diamond firetails displaying, plus swallows at a nest this morning, and striated pardalotes hanging around hollows.

Perhaps we just really need to take a step back. Perhaps it is just our UK/N Eurocentric ‘history’ where we see ‘four seasons’ based on an environment that has very obvious seasonality. Canberra does ‘sort of’ fit this viewpoint, but most of Australia does not, with most of Australia being controlled by rainfall rather than date, with ‘ephemeral’rainfall in the Centre and Northern Australia being ‘wet and dry’ rather than having 4 seasons.

Maybe we arnt that different here in Canberra, the warm temperatures seem to be lagging later into the year, when I was a kid Im sure March/early april was freezing. this year there have been many flowers in autumn (hibbertia, goodenias, tricoryne even some trigger plants) and last year lots of grass seeds at this time of year, when I remember very few flowers at this time, previous to that. Is this lag due to climate variability or climate change? Is late breeding just the ‘ephemeral’ adaptation of Australian nature making the most of the conditions. One reason why Australian finch species have become so popular in captivity around the world is that most will breed at any time of year /adapt to local seasons as long as the conditions are right. Whereas even after 50 years in captivity some European finches still have set times of year when they breed in Australia. Perhaps we need touse  ‘seasonality’ as a classificational system to help us define ‘the exception’ rather than as The rule. Maybe temperature and rainfall would be more appropriate than date and season.


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