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Global warming could doom many bird species

Global warming could doom many bird species

Global warming could doom many bird species
November 13, 2006

Up to 72 percent of bird species in northeastern Australia and more than a third in Europe could go extinct unless action is taken to address global warming said a report from environmental group WWF.

The report, “Bird Species and Climate Change: The Global Status Report”, reviews more than 200 scientific articles on birds and identifies groups of birds at high risk from climate change: migratory, mountain, island, wetland, Arctic, Antarctic and seabirds. It says that species that can easily migrate to new habitats will likely thrive, while birds that live in niche environments may decline.

“Robust scientific evidence shows that climate change is now affecting birds’ behaviour,” said Dr Karl Mallon, Scientific Director at Climate Risk, an Australian climate change consultancy, and one of the authors of the report. “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.”

“Birds have long been used as indicators of environmental change, and with this report we see they are the quintessential ‘canaries in the coal mine’ when it comes to climate change,” said Hans Verolme, Director of WWF’s Global Climate Change Program.

Emperor penguin numbers declined 50 per cent at Terre Adélie in Antarctica during a period of prolonged, abnormally warm and unusually variable winter temperatures.
© WWF-Canon / Fritz PÖLKING

The report urges governments to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels sufficient to keep global mean temperature increase to less than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels.

“This report finds certain bird groups, such as seabirds and migratory birds, to be early, very sensitive, responders to current levels of climate change. Large-scale bird extinctions may occur sooner than we thought,” added Verolme.

The global status report: Climate change and bird species [pdf, 3.24 MB] | Summary – The global status report: Climate change and bird species [pdf, 1022 KB]

The WWF report cites specific examples from around the world. An excerpt:

This article uses quotes and an extended except from a WWF release.

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