Some species of birds in North America have not fully adjusted their distributions in response to ongoing climate change.
Some species of birds in North America have not fully adjusted their distributions in response to ongoing climate change. The places these birds live have become more decoupled from their optimal climate conditions, while other features of the environment become more constraining. This trend of climate decoupling is more pronounced for habitat specialists and for species declining in abundance. These are the results of a study by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University, the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Doñana Biological Station, now published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Climate decoupling as a result of ongoing climate change may lead to additional stresses on many species of birds, and exacerbate population declines.
Climate change poses a number of challenges to plants and animals. For example, as the climate changes, appropriate climatic conditions for many species are changing, and some may disappear altogether. This can become even more severe as the climate is changing together with other human-caused changes, such as land use for agriculture or other uses. When there is increasing divergence between the climatic conditions suitable for a particular species and its abundance and distribution through time, this is known as climate decoupling. For example, the grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) lives in grasslands across North America and was once quite common in these habitats. However, because grasslands continue to be degraded or lost, this has hindered this grassland specialist species from fully adjusting to changing climatic conditions. Climate decoupling, together with habitat loss, may explain the observed high rates of grasshopper sparrow abundance declines and local extinctions.
Read more at: German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research
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