Study Reveals How Birds Respond to Changes in Climate

Some birds benefit from climate changes while others suffer.

There have been numerous reports and concerns about climate changes worldwide. Regions that are usually cool are becoming warmer, while regions that are warm are now even warmer. Scientists are wondering how this change in weather affects wildlife. In a recent study led by Dr. Peter S??rd J??nsen, Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, data was collected of birds in different seasons. The data was comprised of “51 different bird species gathered by around 50,000 volunteers in 18 different European countries between 1990 [and] 2008,?University of Copenhagen reported on their Faculty of Science page.

The data was analyzed and results showed that “[w]hile some species benefit from these changes, birds that are adapted to colder regions stand to lose. This knowledge can help predict future bird communities in Europe and focus the effort to tackle the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable species,?University of Copenhagen reported. The study revealed that species that have adapted to colder European regions ?such as the house sparrow, carrion crow, meadow pipit and redpoll ?become “relatively less abundant.?However, the short-toed treecreeper and the collared dove benefit from warmer winters. The goldfinch and woodlark benefit in spring when it came to breeding.

“We found benefits from conditions observed under climate change for both resident birds, short-distance migrants and long distance-migrants, but at very different times of the year that complement their breeding season. So if we are to predict what the future bird community may look like in Europe, we need to understand how the conditions during breeding will change,?J??nsen said.

Ian Burfield, Global Science Coordinator for Programs at BirdLife International said, “Of course climate change will favor some species, but studies suggest we will have more losers than winners. That is why the BirdLife Partnership is actively delivering mitigation and adaptation solutions,?University of Copenhagen reported.

Even though the study also revealed that species that migrate to Europe later in the year (northern wheatear and common redstart) also benefit from warmer winters, they are at increased risk because they are feeling the effects from the climate change on two continents.

“Long-distance migrants are already believed to be particularly vulnerable to climate change, as they experience impacts in multiple locations along their busy travel routes that stretch two continents. We found that long-distance migrants in particular were in decline in countries with intensive agriculture expressed through high cereal yields. Our results suggest that we should take action to protect long-distance migrant birds in countries with the most intensified agriculture,?J??nsen said.

These results were published in Global Change Biology by J??nsen and his team, along with BirdLife International and the European Bird Census Council.


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