Birdwatching in China gives climate clues

Dec. 31, 2012 at 3:31 PM
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BEIJING, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The first bird-watching database in China, from five years of observations, shows species moving to higher latitudes and elevations, researchers said.

Writing in the journal Chinese Science Bulletin, researchers at Tsinghua University said such trends of bird distribution have garnered a great amount of attention with growing concern about climate change, since birds are one of the most sensitive indicators of ecosystem health.

Recent studies have analyzed the impact of human activities on bird distribution and their response to climate change, but to date there had been had been no geographic distribution database of birds for analysis in China, the researchers said.

Tsinghua University researcher Xueyan Li and her collaborators analyzed 30,936 bird-watching records from 2003 to 2007 to create the China Bird Watching Database.

The database includes four critically endangered species, 11 endangered species and 44 vulnerable species in China, the researchers said.

Of the species listed, 109 were observed moving outside their normal distributions from 2003 to 2007, showing a trend of moving to high latitude and high elevation regions, evidence of ecological response to climate change, the researchers said.

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