Hundreds of birds face extinction due to climate change: study

Nearly 400 species of North American birds are threatened with extinction due to climate change, according to a study released Thursday.

The greater sage grouse, Florida scrub jay, and Baltimore oriole are among the 64 percent of bird species in North America that are highly vulnerable to climate change, according to the report by the National Audubon Society.

As global temperatures rise, birds become more susceptible to problems arising from climate change, according to the report.

The threatened bird species grow from 54 percent at 2 degrees Celsius global temperature rise to 63 percent for a 3 degrees Celsius increase. The group estimates that, conversely, if climate change mitigations were implemented, it could reduce the threat to birds across the contiguous U.S. by more than 91 percent.

Bird habitats are one of the biggest indicators of how warming temperatures will affect their livelihood, the study shows. Arctic birds, boreal forest birds, western forest birds and waterbirds are the most susceptible groups. All 16 species of Arctic birds are the most vulnerable, at 100 percent, to climate change.

The study found that it is not solely warming temperatures that pose a threat to bird species, but also risks to their habitat. Sea level rise, changes in lake levels and fires all pose long-term risks to bird habitat and species existence.

“Birds localize and personalize climate change,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society, on a call with reporters Thursday.

He said the study showed that every bird species will experience some impact from climate change.

The stark study follows research published in Science Magazine in September that found bird populations in the U.S. and Canada have already decreased by 29 percent since 1970. The research estimated that there are 2.9 billion fewer birds than there were five decades ago. Human environmental impacts were largely attributed as the source of the bird species demise including increased agricultural development and the use of pesticides.

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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