Bird Migration and Climate Change

Bird Migration and Climate Change April 5, 2016

Darryl Fears:

The birds and the bees are telling humans about much more than sex, a new study released Thursday says.

They are a harbinger of climate change, with species swapping habitats like a game of musical chairs as regions in Europe and the United States warm. Populations of American robins that winter in southern states are in decline there, but they are on the upswing in northern states that were once too cold. And European wrens are beating a trail from southern parts of Europe, also for chilly northern areas that in the past were uncomfortable, the study says.

The study on the warming climate’s effect on common birds “is the first real demonstration that climate is having a similar, large-scale influence” on the animals around the world. It was undertaken by an international team of researchers led by the Durham University in England, with help from the U.S. Geological Survey, and published Thursday in the journal Science.

“These findings represent a new climate impact indicator for biodiversity,” said Stephen Willis, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the university’s School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. “The same approach could also be applied to species such as bees, butterflies and dragonflies, which are well monitored and highly susceptible to changes in climate.”

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