As they soar through the sky, birds seem blissfully impervious to the stresses of Earth. Indeed, their ability to migrate makes them more resilient to habitat disruption than less dynamic creatures.
That makes the most recent annual report produced by the National Audubon Society, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting birds and their habitat, particularly startling.
Released this week, the report predicts that if Earth continues to warm according to current trends—rising 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100—more than two-thirds of North America’s bird species will be vulnerable to extinction due to range loss. (A March 2019 study, suggests that drastic and immediate action will be necessary to slow warming to just 2 degrees by 2100.)
While such projections are concerning enough on their own, the study’s implications go beyond the avian world. “Birds, because of their relatively greater capacity to disperse and migrate, serve as a conservative baseline for other taxa facing the threats posed by climate change,” the report says. Put simply: Birds are sentinel species, or indicators of the environment’s health, so Audubon’s dim projections about their future portend even worse implications for other animals. [Continue reading…]