Models accurately predict how climate change impacts birds

"Our findings are a real win for bird conservation in the U.K. and beyond," said researcher Regan Early.
By Brooks Hays  |  Nov. 21, 2017 at 9:51 AM
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Nov. 21 (UPI) -- As the climate warms, where will different bird species move to? How will their ranges be impacted?

Scientists have built a variety of models to answer those questions, and the latest research suggests the newest versions of those models are accurate.

Climate change is already happening. Temperatures have risen steadily over the last century, and birds are on the move. To test the latest prediction models, scientists looked at whether bird movements over the last 40 years in the United Kingdom match the models' predictions.

Of the tested models, the latest iterations proved highly accurate.

The findings -- published this week in the journal Global Change Biology -- suggest efforts to improve forecasting models are paying off.

"We are now a lot more confident in what models should be used, and when, to provide a more accurate picture of biodiversity loss from climate change," Damien Fordham, researcher at the University of Adelaide, said in a news release. "While this study was on U.K. birds, we expect these results will also hold for many other birds and animals."

The models accurately predicted the expansion of the sparrowhawk's range into eastern Britain during the last 40 years.

"Our findings are a real win for bird conservation in the U.K. and beyond," said Regan Early, scientist at the University of Exeter's Center for Ecology and Conservation. "This is because we now have tools that not only better forecast climate-driven range movements, but can be used to target conservation management resources more effectively."

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