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Consequences of Climate Change: Arctic Migratory Birds To Lose Breeding Habitat by 2070

Jul 26, 2016 06:33 AM EDT
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Climate change has left migratory birds with nowhere to go. A recent study revealed that the Arctic region is rapidly becoming unsuitable for shorebird breeding as global warming heightens.

According to the study published in the journal Global Change Biology, a team of scientists from the University of Queensland discovered that migratory bird breeding in the Arctic could be wiped out by the year 2070.

The team came up with the conclusion after creating a research model that adapted the climate breeding conditions of 24 Arctic birds and projecting them by 2070.

Migratory birds usually travel over 20,000 kilometers from the North to the Arctic to breed. However, as the Earth warms, scientists found out that migratory birds retreat further north, being restricted to small islands in the Arctic Ocean, Science Daily reports.

"This means that countries throughout the world will have fewer migratory birds reaching their shores," said researcher Hannah Wauchope.

She further explained that the warming Arctic could also result in major changes in the birds' migratory pathways to find more suitable habitats.

However, apart from migratory bird breeding, she also said climate change has made the Arctic vulnerable to other environmental threats, such as mining and tourism.

Richard Fuller, an associate professor from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, explained that the investigation on shorebirds opens up doors on the effects of climate change to breeding grounds and the necessary actions to prevent it.

Wauchope revealed that 83 percent of the bird species currently breeding in the Arctic could lose their suitable breeding area as breeding conditions continue to change in the next 70 years.

"This far exceeds the effects of the last major warming event on Earth, but genetic evidence suggests that even then the birds struggled to deal with the warming," she added.

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