CANADA: Climate change threatens extinction for most birds, report says

CANADA: Climate change threatens extinction for most birds, report says

Almost two-thirds of America's breeding bird species are at risk of extinction amid a warming climate, according to a new report.

"Birds are important indicator species, because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too", senior climate scientist at Audubon, Brooke Bateman, warns in a statement to PEOPLE. 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.

The different bird species considered by scientists face varying degrees of threats in the three models, depending on the species' range and habitat, and the three different scenarios of global temperature change.

Using latest climate models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, they examined the habitats of 604 North American species.

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 imperiled by the Earth's predicted temperature rise include such widely recognised and beloved species as the piping plover, Baltimore oriole and golden eagle, Audubon said.

The authors of the new study suggest there are steps everyone can take to reduce the risk facing North American birds species.

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But if the expected rise in temperatures of 3 degrees Celsius (37.4 F) by 2080 is slowed to 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 F), almost 40 per cent of those species would no longer be considered vulnerable, researchers said.

Last month, a paper published in Science reported North America's bird population has experienced a loss of 2.9 billion breeding adults since 1970. In South Carolina, we represent more than 20,000 Audubon members and supporters, nine Audubon chapters and bird club partners, two Audubon centers and 22,000 acres of land that we own and manage.

That means people could be next, if birds are impacted. "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".

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.

ME would be one of the worst-hit states under the worst-case scenario because its northerly climate has a wide diversity of bird habitat that captures breeding birds that migrate south in the winter and those that remain, like the black-capped chickadee and boreal chickadee, Wells said.

Dr. Bateman and her team also studied climate-related impacts on birds across the lower 48 states, including sea level rise, urbanization, cropland expansion, drought, extreme spring heat, fire weather and heavy rain.

"Our elected officials at every level of government must hear from their constituents that this is a priority", she said.

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