Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

African Bird Species Could Struggle To Relocate To Survive Global Warming

Date:
June 13, 2009
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
African bird species could struggle to relocate to survive global warming because natural features of the landscape will limit where they can move to, according to new research.

A map showing areas where lots of birds' ranges end (yellow) and areas which are more easily crossed (red).
Credit: Image courtesy of Imperial College London

African bird species could struggle to relocate to survive global warming because natural features of the landscape will limit where they can move to, according to new research published June 10 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. As the global climate changes, some land bird species will be forced to move to new habitats, expanding and shifting their natural geographical 'range', in order to maintain suitable living conditions.

The research team behind today's findings from Imperial College London says, however, that some sub-Saharan African species are in danger of getting trapped in environments that will become too hostile for them to survive. Birds may not be able to move across areas containing dramatically different kinds of landscapes, such as arid plains, tropical forests or mountain ranges. This is because these different natural features of Africa's landscape present such uniquely difficult survival challenges for species not already adapted to live across multiple habitats. This may prevent species from completing their journeys to new homes with suitable climates.

Lead author of the new study Lynsey McInnes, a PhD research student at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, explains: "As the climate changes and some habitats become inhospitable, bird species may start to move - stretching their ranges as they track the changing climate across the landscape, looking for new, agreeable habitats. "Our study suggests that these vital movements could run into difficulties if the birds' escape routes cross regions that they're not well adapted to survive in - such as mountain ranges, arid plains or tropical forests. These regions create barriers which many birds cannot cross because they do not provide the right kind of food and shelter."

Every species has a unique geographical range, which encompasses all the places it can be found. Ms McInnes and her colleagues from Imperial's Department of Life Sciences overlaid and analysed digital maps of the current geographical ranges of nearly 1900 species of sub-Saharan African land birds. They found a number of key locations where a large number of species' ranges come to an abrupt end, and realised that these 'barriers' correspond with dramatic changes in Africa's terrain, vegetation and topography. For example they found a large number of ranges, including those of the Congo Serpent Eagle and Violet-Tailed Sunbird, which end where the tropical rainforests of central Africa meet the surrounding savannah. Similarly they found that lots of species' ranges end on the slopes of the Eastern Arc Mountains of Kenya and Tanzania; examples include mountain-dwelling species such as the Usambara Eagle Owl and Udzungwa Forest Partridge, which do not expand their ranges into the surrounding lowlands.

The fact that so many species are currently constrained by these landscape barriers – even species such as the Namaqua Dove and Copper Sunbird whose naturally large ranges span a range of savanna and grassland habitats, but end at the boundaries of the rainforests - indicates that they may be almost impossible to pass. This is a concern if species need to make unusual journeys as the climate changes, says Dr David Orme from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London: "We hope to combine our data showing the locations of these 'barriers' with African climate projections, so we can predict species which may be most at risk of getting stuck if they try moving to escape climate change. If we can pinpoint species that may run up against these natural barriers, conservationists may be able to help them across, perhaps through assisted migration programmes."

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial, which funded the research, said: "This study highlights the scope of problems animals across the world are facing as the climate of their natural habitat changes. I hope that through studies like this, we can increase our understanding of these challenges and be better placed to help species adapt to the climatic changes we've caused, and that they will provide more ammunition for deciding to limit those changes as much as we can."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "African Bird Species Could Struggle To Relocate To Survive Global Warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609220601.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2009, June 13). African Bird Species Could Struggle To Relocate To Survive Global Warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609220601.htm
Imperial College London. "African Bird Species Could Struggle To Relocate To Survive Global Warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609220601.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
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