Half of Tropical Birds Have Shrunk Because Of Climate Change And Deforestation:  A New Study

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Throughout a Central American tropical rainforest, bird numbers are in steep decrease, with climate change and habitat loss potential culprits. For tropical birds, there is long-term research on population patterns, and this paper gives clues into just how animals are dealing with the loss of habitat and the looming global warming issue.

Almost all of the species studied in a recent research were found to have decreased in number, and many of them substantially. As many as tens of thousands of birds were identified and banded by the researchers over the course of four decades by using mist nets. A total of 57 species were simulated, and their abundance was predicted. Three-quarters of the 40 species that were found to be decreasing had decreased in population by more than half from their pre-study levels. This year, the population of just two species rose, which is unusual.

A wide range of bird groups saw losses, and the declines seemed to be unrelated to ecological characteristics like body bulk, feeding pattern, or beginning abundance. The authors of the paper argue that conserving species requires a focus on determining trends in population decreases and figuring out the underlying ecological causes.

Bird populations are under stress as a result of climate change, altering rainfall patterns, rising temperatures, and deforestation, according to experts. Between 1990 – 2010, logging in the tropical areas increased by 62 percent, leading to a total loss of around 8 million hectares (20 million acres) over this time period.

Indirect effects of the environmental crisis may also be contributing to the drop. Temperature and precipitation influence the insects that birds eat, thus, droughts and erratic rainfall may have an impact on the season’s supply of fruits & nectar. Concerns have been raised that the changing environment may favour parasites that damage birds as well.

This research found that, despite the fact that tropical forests are generally regarded as a storehouse of biodiversity, species numbers seem to be declining.

The study was published in PNAS.

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