Cli­mate change could col­lapse song­bird pop­u­la­tion

Wisconsin Gazette - - Front Page - By Lisa Neff Staff writer

Bird­watch­ers in the Mid­west know the Aca­dian fly­catcher’s song goes “peet-sah, peet-sah.” But will bird­ers a cen­tury from now know the call?

New re­search from the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­souri sug­gests the com­mon song­bird is at risk of se­vere pop­u­la­tion de­cline within the cen­tury due to global warm­ing.

“The pos­si­bil­ity that an abun­dant species could ap­proach near-ex­tinc­tion from the re­gion within 90 years clearly demon­strates the sig­nif­i­cant im­pact of a warm­ing cli­mate on song­bird pop­u­la­tions,” said Thomas Bon­not, an as­sis­tant re­search pro­fes­sor at the uni­ver­sity’s School of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

For years, the Audubon So­ci­ety and other groups have warned of the im­pact of cli­mate change on bird pop­u­la­tions, es­pe­cially species con­sid­ered threat­ened.

Bon­not’s re­search looks at a com­mon species.

He worked with a for­mer ad­viser, Frank Thomp­son of the U.S. For­est Ser­vice, who has spent more than two decades re­search­ing the Aca­dian fly­catcher, an olive and yel­low­ish bird with a long and broad bill.

They made pro­jec­tions from data on the ef­fects of higher tem­per­a­tures on breed­ing, run­ning through the year 2100.

The re­searchers found that a warm­ing cli­mate would have a se­vere im­pact on breed­ing, threat­en­ing the fly­catcher pop­u­la­tion.

If cli­mate change con­tin­ues at its cur­rent pace, the fly­catcher’s breed­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity would fall be­low 1 fledg­ling per fe­male per year by 2100, ac­cord­ing to the study pub­lished in the Na­ture Cli­mate Change Jour­nal.

How­ever, the re­search model shows that if green­house gas emis­sions are low­ered and the course of cli­mate change sta­bi­lizes, the fu­ture for the Aca­dian fly­catcher im­proves.

Bon­not said other com­mon birds could face sim­i­lar threats.


The Aca­dian fly­catcher is a com­mon species in the Mid­west but it is threat­ened by cli­mate change.

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