Bird Populations Adapt to Climate Change

Flock of Birds

Bird species are differently influenced by climate change.

BEACON TRANSCRIPTWhile climate change affects all environments and animals species, some of them have a higher adaptability than others, like bird populations in North America and Europe. A wildlife study led by a European-US partnership has shown that birds who were supposed to adapt very well to the phenomenon have actually outperformed their peers over the last three decades.

An international team of scientists led by the Durham University has discovered that bird species that were previously thought to adapt to changing climate conditions outperformed the ones what were supposed to suffer from the 1980s until 2010.

The research was conducted in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey and the RSPB, and the results were released in the Science journal. In order to reach this conclusion, the researchers had to analyze 380 American birds and 145 common European ones, after splitting them into groups of birds that would face struggles and those that would thrive through climate change.

Therefore, it appears that the Cetti’s warbler and bee-eater species have increased in number in southern Europe. At the same time, the brambling and the willow tit that inhabit the northern parts have dwindling populations.

Furthermore, wrens have recorded rising populations in northern Europe where the winter has been milder. However, the same species is declining in southern areas with hotter and drier climates. Another example is the Dartford warbler which has prospered in the U.K. since the 1980s while declining in warmer countries like Spain.

As for the United States, Louisiana and Mississippi have seen rising populations of the American Robin, as opposed to the Dakotas and other states located in the north and center of the country. According to the lead authors of the study, Dr. Philip Stephens, and Sr. Stephen Willis from the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences of Durham University, the results prove the existence of a large-scale response of bird populations to global warming on two different continents. Willis believes that

“These findings represent a new climate impact indicator for biodiversity. 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.”

Stephens has concluded that if climate change would have no consequences, the bird species average trend of populations would be the same in both groups. However, the difference stands as a clear proof that the recent changes have favored one type of species while damaging the other.

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