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Study warns climate change and deforestation will lead to declines in global bird diversity

Global warming and the destruction of natural habitats will lead to significant declines and extinctions in the worlds 8,750 terrestrial bird species over the next century, according to a study conducted by biologists at the University of California, San Diego and Princeton University.

Their study, the first global assessment of how climate change and habitat destruction may interact to impact the distribution of a large group of vertebrates over the next century, appears in the June 5 issue of the journal PLoS Biology.

The scientists warn in their study that, even under the most optimistic scenarios of controlling climate change and protecting habitats, at least 400 bird species are projected to become imperiled by the year 2050 due to reductions in their geographic ranges of greater than 50 percent. All estimates in the study are based on the assumption that birds will not dramatically shift their geographic ranges in response to a changing climate.

"We found in our study that under certain assumptions by the year 2100, 950 to 1,800 bird species may be imperiled or even driven to extinction by climate change and habitat destruction," says Walter Jetz, an assistant professor of biological sciences at UCSD and the lead author of the study. "Most of these species are currently not recognized as imperiled."

"Its clear that both climate change and habitat destruction pose grave threats to many of the worlds birds and, by analogy, to other species as well," says David Wilcove, a professor of ecology, evolutionary biology and public affairs at Princeton University and a co-author of the study. "Neither problem can be addressed in a vacuum."

Climate change and deforestation have already been implicated in the extinctions and geographical range reductions of many terrestrial species of vertebrate animals in recent decades. But the researchers point out that based on global warming and deforestation projections this loss
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Contact: Kim McDonald
kmcdonald@ucsd.edu
858-534-7572
University of California - San Diego
4-Jun-2007


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