Asian birds species in need of help

Feb. 5, 2013 at 4:35 PM
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DURHAM, England, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Many Asian bird species are likely to suffer under future climate change, researchers say, and may need a helping hand from humans to adapt.

A study by Britain's Durham University and BirdLife International suggests many species will require enhanced protection of habitats, better management of surrounding countryside, and in some of the most extreme cases may need to be physically moved to climatically suitable areas to help them survive.

The researchers, writing in the journal Global Change Biology, argue for stronger protection and effective management of important sites for conservation.

They examined potential future distributions of suitable climate within conservation sites for 370 Asian bird species of concern across the Eastern Himalaya and Lower Mekong regions.

At least 45 percent and possibly up to 88 percent of those 370 species will experience declines in suitable climate, the researchers predict.

"Even under the least extreme scenarios of climate change, most species we examined will have to shift their ranges in order to find suitable areas in the future," Robert Bagchi of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich said.

The researchers studied regions in Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as parts of Nepal and India.

"As climate changes, we may have to assist birds to move to more suitable locations to help them survive," Durham biologist Stephen Wills said. "Although many birds will adjust their distributions, and will find new habitats with suitable climate, we need to manage the countryside to help them disperse, or even relocate birds in the most extreme cases."

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