How are waders being affected by a warming tundra?

We are witnessing a warming Arctic tundra due to climate change.

Warming Tundra
Juvenile Red Knot

You could be justified for thinking that rising temperatures would result in an increase in the abundance of insects. You could further surmise that this would be a positive advantage, providing a good source of food for young waders. The logical conclusion therefore would be that the chicks emerging from the Arctic should be stronger and healthier than ever, enabling them to develop more quickly. But does this change to a warmer climate and the natural cycles that follow, such as earlier springs and melting of the permafrost, really mean things are better for Arctic breeding waders?

Apparently not. Studies have been carried out to examine the effects of these changes in juvenile Red Knots Calidris canutus.

It is true that a warming tundra does increase the length of the flying season for insects, however that does not necessarily mean the same is true for the all-important flightless insects, as there emergence is related to the timing of the thaw. These flightless insects are what wader chicks depend upon to grow. If this emergence and the resulting glut of food does not coincide with hatching dates, the results can be far from positive for the young birds.

When it comes to raising young birds in the Arctic, timing is crucial, and the knock-on effect of miss-timing can impact negatively on the wellbeing of young, developing Red Knots.

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