Friday, November 17, 2006

Global Warming and Bird Extinction

According to a new report released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), birds are suffering increasing effects from global warming.  The result may be a major extinction.  (The full report is found here, in pdf format.  A summary is found here, also in pdf format.)

The results from climate change are already startling.

ENS Link

The researchers found declines of up to 90 percent in some bird populations, as well as total and unprecedented reproductive failure in others.

They estimate that bird extinction rates could be as high as 38 percent in Europe, and 72 percent in northeastern Australia, if global warming exceeds two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - currently it is 0.8ºC above those levels.

Dr. Karl Mallon, scientific director at Climate Risk Pty. Ltd of Sydney, Australia, authors of the report, had this comment:

"We are seeing migratory birds failing to migrate, and climate change pushing increasing numbers of birds out of synchrony with key elements of their ecosystems," Mallon said.  The report, "Bird Species and Climate Change: The Global Status Report," reviews more than 200 scientific articles on birds in every continent to build up a global picture of climate change impacts.

Certain types of birds are at higher risk from the effects of warming.

The report identifies groups of birds at high risk from climate change - migratory, mountain, island, and wetland birds, Arctic and Antarctic birds, and seabirds.

WWF indicates that change must be made to the manner in which birds are currently protected.  Future conservation approaches will need to focus less on the protection of specific geographic locations.    

Based on this report, WWF concludes that the current approach to bird conservation, focused on protecting specific areas with a high bird diversity, will fail because climate change will force birds to shift into unprotected zones.  ...

Bird species that can relocate to new habitat are expected to survive global warming, but species that do well only in a narrow environmental range are expected to decline, and to be outnumbered by invasive species.


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