Knots are shrinking as a response to climate change; and that may not be a good thing, according to research. An international team headed by Dr Jan van Gils of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research found that over the course of 30 years of study at its Arctic breeding ground, the Knot has changed both size and shape, with smaller offspring being produced due to food availability.
The birds then pay the price for this when they arrive in Africa for the winter. The smaller birds are less capable of reaching through the mud for the shellfish that make up the bulk of their diet, leading to malnourishment and death. In consequence, fewer and fewer Knots are surviving to adulthood.
Martin Wikelski of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology stated that it was important to realise that environmental changes in one part of the world can have dire consequences thousands of miles away.