Climate change threatens bird species with extinction, study says

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 12, 2019

The report shows two-thirds of North Americacn birds are at risk of extinction.

"Wild birds face a lot of threats of different kinds, but climate change just puts, sort of compounds those threats in a lot of pretty devastating ways", said Travis Audubon Executive Director Nicole Netherton.

"It's yet another of these wake-up calls". The Audubon report looks ahead to describe how climate change will further exacerbate the challenges birds are already facing from human activity.

Brad Lyon, a research professor at the Climate Change Institute at the University of ME in Orono, said it's conceivable that by 2100 the average global temperature will increase 3 degrees Celsius, or 5.4 Fahrenheit - the figure on which the Audubon report's worst-case scenario is based.

The simulations showed 389 out of 604 species will be without suitable habitat - threatened with extinction as a result of range loss - by 2100 should Earth's climate warm by 3 degrees Celsius.

The boreal chickadee, for example, would colonize new parts of Canada and lose about 50 percent of its global range, including all of ME, in the report's worst-case scenario, Wells said. Audubon's new findings reflect an expanded and more precise data set, and indicate the dire situation for birds and the places they need will continue. They would include everything from tiny songbirds to big raptors. At the highest warming scenario of 3.0 C, 305 bird species face three or more climate-related impacts. Crows and magpies are already appearing in northern latitudes where before they were rarely seen. More species could end up breeding in the tundra, and much of the rest of Canada could see an increased variety of birds fleeing southern habitats that had become too warm. "Most birds will likely experience multiple, compounding threats - unless we curb emissions and prioritize conserving the areas, identified by the models, that will be critical to climate-threatened birds".

The boreal chickadee will be extirpated from ME if global temperatures continue to rise as a result of climate change, the National Audubon Society reported Thursday.

The authors of the new study suggest there are steps everyone can take to reduce the risk facing North American birds species.

In contrast, the vulnerability score drops to 54 per cent if nations adhere to the 2°C limit imposed by the Paris climate agreement and 47 per cent under the more stringent 1.5°C target. There's hope in this report, but first, it'll break your heart if you care about birds and what they tell us about the ecosystems we share with them.

Scientists say that, in addition to eating bugs and pollinating plants, birds are an important indicator species. In South Carolina, we represent more than 20,000 Audubon members and supporters, nine Audubon chapters and bird club partners, two Audubon centers and 22,000 acres of land that we own and manage. They're the ones that are telling us what's going on in the environment.

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