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Major study on how climate change affects birds

For the first time, researchers have shown that bird populations in Europe and the Unites States respond similarly to climate change.
Photo: Åke Lindström

This is the first time ever that a comparative study of this magnitude has been executed. The study is based on data that have been collected over 30 years in the US and Europe. Åke Lindström, professor at Lund University and in charge of the Swedish bird monitoring project “Svensk Fågeltaxering”, participated in the study.

The results largely confirm what was previously assumed: Species that prefer a warm climate are often better off and can be seen increasingly further north as the temperature rises. The wren in Europe and the American robin in the US are two examples of species that are particularly sensitive to the climate.

Locally, this is demonstrated in that the number of species that reside in the colder part of its habitat has increased, as the climate there has become more favourable to them. Similarly, the bird populations residing in the warmer parts of their habitat have decreased, as the temperature has become too hot. In Sweden, the common chaffinch is an example of a species that is clearly spreading towards the north. The brambling – its northern relative – has correspondingly moved its southernmost outposts in Sweden further north.

“If the climate temperature continues to rise, in the long term, the problem will be that the most northern species will no longer have a place to where they can retreat”, says Åke Lindström.

The study is published in the scientific journal Science.

 

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