Hundreds of bird species could face extinction
CLIMATE change and the destruction of natural habitats could put hundreds of species of birds at risk of extinction over the next century.
Biologists in the US say the combination of deforestation and changes to birds' habitats will be "devastating" for the world's 8,750 land bird species.
The scientists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Princeton University estimated 950 to 1,800 bird species may be under threat or even driven to extinction by 2100.
The researchers said even under the most optimistic projections of controlling climate change and protecting habitats, at least 400 species will be at risk by the year 2050.
In a study published in the journal PLoS Biology, they said climate and habitat destruction had already appeared to have led to extinctions and reductions in the geographical ranges of many animals, and the process seemed to be accelerating.
Climate change is expected to be most intense at higher altitude, while deforestation and conversion of land to new uses in the tropics threatens the wide diversity of bird species there.
In the short term, land-use changes in the tropics pose more of a threat to birds because they are especially diverse and have small geographical ranges.
But, combined, the two factors will be devastating, the scientists warned.
David Wilcove, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, said: "This is akin to killing two birds with one stone. Deforestation drives tropical species to extinction and also contributes to global climate change. Climate change, in turn, drives temperate species to extinction.
"The good news is that by halting deforestation we can protect both tropical and temperate birds."
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