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Vanishing Birds In California


Aired 4/19/09

A new Audubon California study released Tuesday finds that the state will lose significant numbers of its native birds as climate change shrinks the range and habitat of more than 100 species.  KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The state predictions are based on climate models in a national Audubon study.

That study, using data collected over the past 40 years, determined that 177 bird species in the U.S. are spending the winter farther north because of a warming world.

In California, scientists worry that the warming climate might not only force certain species to move northward, but wipe out others that are not quick to adapt.

The study also suggests that significant curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and investment in conservation can greatly reduce the damage.

The California study presents scenarios for 313 native-Californian bird species using models that predict different future climates based on low-to-high reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

The news is most alarming for birds like the yellow-billed magpie , which only exist in California.

The study found that the species would lose about 75 percent of its range in coming decades under a high emission scenario, but only about 9 percent if pollution is reduced significantly.

A co-author of the national Audubon report says birds are an indication of how humans are tipping the balance of nature.    
Ed Joyce, KPBS News.


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