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6 Species of Hawaiian Songbirds Could Face Extinction in 10 Years Due to Climate Change and Rats

Sep 08, 2016 05:19 AM EDT

A new study revealed that most of the species of the colorful Hawaiian songbirds could face extinction within the next decaed due to the warmer temperatures brought by climate change.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, suggests that six of the remaining 18 species of the Hawaiian honeycreepers are in danger of being wiped out from the surface of the Earth if their numbers continue to decline at a similar rate as they have been in the last 10 years.

"This study showed us two things: one, that the ones we already knew were in trouble were in even worse trouble than we thought -- like, much worse trouble," explained Lisa Crampton, a project leader at the Kaua'I Forest Bird Recovery Project and co-author of the study, in a report from The Verge. "And two, species that we thought were doing okay were actually now in trouble. So it was a really worrisome finding."

For the study, the researchers conducted bird surveys on the Alaka'i Plateau of Kaua'i, a highly eroded crater of an extinct volcano 5.1 million years old. The researchers noted a rapid decline in the population of six native birds based on the standardized 25-year trends of the core range and peripheral range.

One of the primary reasons of the imminent collapse of the native forest bird community is the warmer climate induced by climate change. Warmer temperatures increase the risk of the spread of disease that affects birds, including avian malaria.

Furthermore, these native birds have evolved in a nearly disease-free paradise, which made them vulnerable for malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases due to lack of natural defenses.

The arrival of rats on the islands of Hawaii also spelled disaster for the native birds. These rats eat the eggs of the birds, further decreasing their numbers. Additionally, these hungry rodents could also devour adult female bird, reducing the chances of reproduction.

The researchers are now doing their best to prevent the possible extinction of the Hawaiian honeycreepers. They are now trying to collect the eggs of these birds to establish a safe captive breeding population. Furthermore, additional precautions are added to deter hungry rodents from eating the birds.

Read:
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