Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Birds' Movements Reveal Climate Change In Action

Date:
February 26, 2009
Source:
BirdLife International
Summary:
The northward and inland movement of North American birds, confirmed by thousands of citizen-observations, has provided new and powerful evidence that climate change is having a serious impact on natural systems, according to a new report.

Purple Finch has undergone an overall northward movement of 643 kilometres in the last 40 years.
Credit: Copyright Ashok Khosla

The northward and inland movement of North American birds, confirmed by thousands of citizen-observations, has provided new and powerful evidence that climate change is having a serious impact on natural systems, according to a new report by Audubon (BirdLife in the USA). The findings signal the need for dramatic policy changes to combat pervasive ecological disruption.

Related Articles


Analyses of citizen-gathered data from the past 40 years of Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count reveal that 58% of the 305 widespread species that winter on the continent have shifted significantly north since 1968, some by hundreds of kilometres. Movement was detected among species of every type, including more than 70% of highly adaptable forest and feeder birds. Only 38% of grassland species mirrored the trend, reflecting the constraints of their severely-depleted habitat and suggesting that they now face a double threat from the combined stresses of habitat loss and climate adaptation.

Population shifts among individual species are common and can have many causes. However, Audubon scientists say the ongoing trend of movement by some 177 species—closely correlated to long-term winter temperature increases—reveals an undeniable link to the changing climate.

"Birds are showing us how the heavy hand of humanity is tipping the balance of nature and causing ecological disruption in ways we are just beginning to predict and comprehend", said report co-author and Audubon Director of Bird Conservation, Dr Greg Butcher. "Common sense dictates that we act now to curb the causes and impacts of global warming to the extent we can, and shape our policies to better cope with the disruptions we cannot avoid."

Movements across all species averaged approximately 56 kilometres during the period. However, it is the complete picture of widespread movement and the failure of some species to move at all that illustrates the potential for problems.

  • Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus, Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus, and Boreal Chickadee Parus hudsonicus have retreated dramatically north into the Canadian Boreal, their ranges moving an estimated 500, 395, and 340 kilometres respectively over 40 years.
  • Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris, and American Black Duck Anas rubripes, normally found in southern-tier states, have all taken advantage of warmer winter waters and have shifted their ranges north by an estimated 393, 272, and 226 kilometres.
  • Only 10 of 26 grassland species moved north significantly, while nine moved south. Species such as Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna, Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus, and Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia were likely unable to move despite more moderate northern temperatures because essential grassland habitat areas have disappeared, having been converted to intensive human uses such as row crops, pastures, and hayfields. In combination, global warming and ongoing overuse of grasslands by humans will doom grassland birds to continued population declines.

"Birds provide some of the best evidence for species's responses to climate change, through their population size, distribution and timing of breeding and migration", said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife's Global Research and Indicators Coordinator. "There is now plenty of evidence that bird species are shifting their ranges northwards and to higher altitudes, and that their timing of breeding and migration is shifting forwards in response to climate change."

Audubon anticipates that the new avian evidence will help attract attention and spark action among more than 40 million U.S. bird-watchers, including tens of thousands who contributed to the Christmas Bird Count data on which the studies are based. The 109-year-old census provides the world’s longest uninterrupted record of bird population trends. "Citizen Science is allowing us to better recognize the impacts that global warming is having here and now. Only citizen action can help us reduce them", said Butcher.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BirdLife International. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BirdLife International. "Birds' Movements Reveal Climate Change In Action." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220191837.htm>.
BirdLife International. (2009, February 26). Birds' Movements Reveal Climate Change In Action. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220191837.htm
BirdLife International. "Birds' Movements Reveal Climate Change In Action." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090220191837.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Buzz60 (Nov. 20, 2014) Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer teamed up with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and others to investigate a predatory glow worm found in the Amazon. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins