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Climate Change May Doom Gray Owl

As winters warm, brown owls taking over: study
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2011 3:27 PM CST

(Newser) – Here's a real-world change being chalked up to climate change: The number of brown owls is increasing as the number of gray owls decreases, say Finland researchers. Gray plumage is normally a dominant trait in winter climes, possibly because snow makes brown owls more visible to predators, the BBC explains. But researchers found that the brown tawny owl population has increased from 30% to 50% of the total over the last three decades, and the trend appears to be accelerating.

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"Its survival has improved as winters have become warmer," says the lead researcher of brown owls. "In other words, climate-driven selection has led to an evolutionary change in the population." (Read more climate change stories.)

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