Friday, March 12, 2010

Climate Change Could Threaten Hundreds of Bird Species Warns New State of the Birds Report

Oceanic and Hawaiian birds are in greatest peril from the effects of climate change according to the new State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change released yesterday by the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, on behalf of the partnership of federal and state wildlife agencies, scientific and conservation organizations that collaborated on the research.

The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change is the nation's first assessment of migratory birds' vulnerability to climate change. The report indicates that climate change could have an increasingly disruptive effect on bird species in all habitats, although the way lands are managed can mitigate climate change impacts and help birds adapt to changing conditions.

Key findings in the 2010 report:

• Oceanic birds are among the most vulnerable species because they don't raise many young each year; they rely on a rapidly changing marine ecosystem; and they nest on islands that may be flooded as sea levels rise.

• Hawaiian birds such as endangered species Puaiohi and 'Akiapola'au already face multiple threats and are increasingly challenged by mosquito-borne diseases and invasive species as climate change alters their native habitats.

• Birds in coastal, arctic/alpine and grassland habitats as well as those on Caribbean and other Pacific Islands show intermediate levels of vulnerability; most birds in aridlands, wetlands and forests show relatively low vulnerability to climate change.

• For bird species that are already of conservation concern such as the Golden-cheeked Warbler, Whooping Crane and Spectacled Eider, the added vulnerability to climate change may hasten declines or prevent recovery.

• The report identified common bird species such as the American Oystercatcher, Common Nighthawk and Northern Pintail, that are likely to become species of conservation concern as a result of climate change.

"This 2010 report outlines many conservation actions that will be important as biological planning and design of large-scale conservation efforts are advanced," said John Hoskins, Chair of the U.S. NABCI Committee and recently retired Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation. "The proven delivery models exhibited by the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures and the actions outlined in the State Wildlife Action Plans in addition to new partnerships will be important as we tackle the additional threats climate change will place on the birds of our nation."

"While the specific implications of climate change on wildlife, including birds, are uncertain and vary on a regional and state basis, the 2010 State of the Birds Report only emphasizes how important the need is for increased conservation and science-based management," said Ron Regan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. "State fish and wildlife agencies recognize that climate change is a large-scale issue and are working together and with the greater conservation community to develop landscape-scale responses that support managing robust populations and healthy habitats - the best insurance in an uncertain future."

The 2010 State of the Birds Report is the follow-up to a comprehensive report released a year ago showing that that nearly a third of the nation's 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline.

The U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative--which is chaired by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and includes partners from the American Bird Conservancy, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, USDA Forest Service and the U.S. Geological Survey--produced the report. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated its development.

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