Published: Sat, October 12, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Two-thirds of American birds at risk of extinction, new report claims

Two-thirds of American birds at risk of extinction, new report claims

A new study by the Audubon Society finds that 389 bird species are at risk of extinction if global warming increase by 3 degrees Celsius.

That means people could be next, if birds are impacted. "This new data pivots forward and imagines an even more frightening future", Yarnold said. "It's a bird emergency".

The simulations showed 389 out of 604 species will be without suitable habitat - threatened with extinction as a result of range loss - by 2100 should Earth's climate warm by 3 degrees Celsius. A few of the imperiled species include state birds such as Minnesota's common loon, New Jersey's goldfinch and California's quail. Many species, the team concluded, would likely end up moving north to find their ideal habitats.

In addition to warming temperatures, the scientists also looked at climate-related impacts on birds across the lower 48 states, including sea-level rise, Great Lakes' water-level changes, urbanization, cropland expansion, droughts, extreme spring heat, fire weather and heavy rain.

"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. Based on 140 million bird records from more than 70 data sources, the report mapped the future range of birds based on climate change exposure and the ability to adapt. Two recent studies have found numbers for most bird species are dramatically dropping.

"(The loon's) range is going to completely shift out of the U.S. with climate change", Bateman says. The group says keeping global warming in check can benefit almost 76-percent of affected bird species.

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"By stabilizing carbon emissions and holding warming to 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial levels, 76% of vulnerable species will be better off, and almost 150 species would no longer be vulnerable to extinction from climate change", the report said.

"Wild birds face a lot of threats of different kinds, but climate change just puts, sort of compounds those threats in a lot of pretty devastating ways", said Travis Audubon Executive Director Nicole Netherton. "Our elected officials at every level of government must hear from their constituents that this is a priority".

"Climate change is both a direct threat to birds and other wildlife but also a driver of nearly every other threat, that exacerbates their effects", he said. And thanks to the obsessive record-keeping of devout birders, Audubon scientists were able to draw from a database of 140 million records for its study of birds in Mexico, the USA and Canada.

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.

"Looking at the birds on this list, you'll see some of our most iconic species in SC".

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