Climate change threatens tropical birds

Feb. 16, 2012 at 4:51 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- As many as 2,500 different bird species could go extinct due to climate change, a biologist in Utah said.

A review of nearly 200 scientific studies suggests tropical birds living in mountains and coastal forests are at most risk as climate change causes habitat loss, disease and competition among species, the University of Utah reported Thursday.

The review, published online in the journal Biological Conservation, was conducted by Cagan Sekercioglu, an assistant professor of biology at the university.

Sekercioglu says about 100 to 2,500 land bird species may go extinct due to climate change, depending on the severity of global warming and habitat loss due to development, and on the ability of birds to find new homes. He said 600 to 900 species could be extinct by the year 2100.

"Birds are perfect canaries in the coal mine -- it's hard to avoid that metaphor -- for showing the effects of global change on the world's ecosystems and the people who depend on those ecosystems," he said in a release.

The research was conducted along with Richard Primack, a biologist at Boston University, and Janice Wormworth, a science writer and ecological consultant in Australia.

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