Monday, 14 October, 2019

Two-thirds of American birds at risk of extinction, new report claims

Golden eagles are among the 389 types of bird that may not be able to survive in North America the report says Nearly two-thirds of North American bird species under threat due to climate change: report
Steven Clarke | 12 October, 2019, 20:05

A new report from the National Audubon Society finds that almost two-thirds of North American bird species could face extinction if actions are not taken to prevent the earth's temperature from rising 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

"Birds are important indicator species because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people, too", said Brooke Bateman, Audubon's senior climate scientist. 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.

Scientists populated climate models with data on 604 North American bird species, compiled from more than 140 million bird records, to predict where birds will live in a warmer world.

Birds are considered early responders to climate change - they are sensitive to the weather, and warming temperatures mean they have to relocate to a more favorable climate. "Even common species, like American Robins, will likely see changes", said Matt Johnson, Audubon South Carolina's Director of Bird Conservation and Engagement.

The full report showed that 63 percent of 604 species in North America would become vulnerable under a temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius, compared to 54 percent if temperatures rise 2 degrees and 47 percent they go up 1.5 degrees.

The report comes on the heels of several assessments that track the current state of North American species, including a widely reported study in the journal Science, published last week, that estimates total population losses are now approaching 3-billion birds.

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"Birds are living off the same Earth that we are", Wells said. "Those loons are what drive my work today and I can't imagine them leaving the USA entirely in summer but that's what we're facing if trends continue". According to the authors, expanding protections for forests and wetlands can also help mitigate the impacts of climate change while providing vital habitat for birds.

"(The loon's) range is going to completely shift out of the USA with climate change", Bateman says.

"Ninety-nine percent of birds could have to cope with more frequent extreme-weather events, like intense spring heat and heavy rainfall; at the same time, sea-level rise and urbanization could consume much-needed habitat", the scientists write in a summary of their findings. "Our elected officials at every level of government must hear from their constituents that this is a priority".

"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", Renee Stone, vice president of climate at Audubon, tells PEOPLE.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow.

All 16 Arctic species would be at high risk, including iconic birds such as the snowy owl and the Arctic tern.

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