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New study will help protect vulnerable birds from impacts of climate change
Date:3/2/2012

Scientists from PRBO Conservation Science and the Department of Fish and Game have completed an innovative study on the effects of climate change on bird species of greatest concern. This first-of-its-kind study prioritizes which species are most at risk and will help guide conservation measures in California. The study was published this week in the journal PLoS ONE.

"What's most exciting about the study is that our unique approach is one that other scientists and resource managers can duplicate to help them conserve wildlife in the face of climate change," said PRBO Ecologist Tom Gardali, the study's lead author.

"Not only does our study look at which birds will be most at risk given a changed climate, it also evaluates how climate change, piled on top of all the existing threats such as development and invasive species, will affect birds. This gives a more comprehensive picture, and provides the information necessary to help allocate scarce dollars for conservation."

The study combines existing stressors such as habitat loss and degradation with the vulnerability of California's bird species to projected climate change impacts to produce a prioritized list of at-risk species for conservation action. The research shows that nearly 130 species of birds are vulnerable to the predicted effects of climate change and that 21 of the state's 29 threatened and endangered bird species (72 percent) will be further impacted by climate change, increasing their risk of extinction.

"Lists of at-risk species like ours are simply a first step. Now conservationists and resource managers need to use the list and other resources to identify how best to spend limited conservation dollars to benefit birds, other wildlife and human communities," noted Dr. Nat Seavy, study co-author and PRBO scientist.

The study also found that wetland species are more vulnerable than other groups of birds because they are specialized on ha
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Contact: Tom Gardali
tgardali@prbo.org
415-868-0655 x381
PRBO Conservation Science
Source:Eurekalert

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