Published: Sat, October 12, 2019

Climate change threatens extinction for most birds, especially in Canada

Climate change threatens extinction for most birds, especially in Canada

In a new study, National Audubon Society scientists mapped the ranges of 604 North American bird species and used climate models to predict how the their habitats would change.

Scientists say birds are an important indicator species because if an ecosystem can't support birds, it is often unfit for people too. Stabilizing carbon emissions tokeep global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would benefit most of the vulnerable species and possibly result in almost 150 species coming off the list of vulnerable to extinction due to climate change, according to the report. Climate change will further exacerbate the challenges birds are already facing from human activity. By the end of the century, the Audubon estimates that 11% of the state will change to a different biome entirely.

Though reducing emissions from vehicles and power plants is a major goal outlined in the report, Wells said conserving land also is key, not only to maintain more bird habitat but also to provide trees and plants that can absorb carbon and help mitigate greenhouse gases.

"Birds are an intimate part of the landscapes that define our state, from the Brown Pelicans along our coasts to the Yellow-billed Magpies of the Central Valley to the California Quail that serves as a symbol of California itself", said Sarah Rose, executive director of Audubon California.

Scientists believe warming up to 2 degrees could happen as soon as 2050, and 3 degrees could occur by 2080.

Last month, Science published a study by a joint team of conservation biologists describing a grim picture: a steady decline of almost three billion North American birds since 1970, primarily as a result of human activities.

Bateman was in second grade when she first heard the haunting call of the common loon on a lake in Wisconsin. And while birds become more and more vulnerable, they indicate a looming effect of climate change on humans as well.

Steven Price, president of Bird Studies Canada, said the report shows the looming impact of climate change on bird life across a complex and intertwined series of environmental effects. And along with them, so may we.

The golden eagle is one of the endangered birds threatened by the Earth's predicted temperature rise.

"We have overlapping climate-change-induced threats: heavy rains, weather that is prone to fire risk, sea levels rising", Wells said.

"We already know what we need to do to reduce global warming, and we already have a lot of the tools we need to take those steps", Stone said in a statement.

"Now, what we need are more people committed to making sure those solutions are put into practice", she adds. "Audubon is committed to protecting the places birds need now and in the future and taking action to address the root causes of climate change".

This need to find a new home warrants them in danger of extinction as it exposes them to new predators and new conditions they may not be suited for.

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