Atlas reveals climate change is pushing birds further north

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This story at the origin appears in The Guardian and is part of the Climate office collaboration.

Europe’s nesting bird populations have moved an average of one kilometer north each year for the past three decades, possibly due to the climate crisis, according to one of the world’s largest citizen science projects on biodiversity.

the Atlas of European Breeding Birds 2 (EBBA2) provides the most detailed picture to date of the continent’s bird distribution, after 120,000 volunteers and field workers surveyed 11 million square kilometers, from the Azores in the west to the Russian Urals in the ‘is.

the delivered documents the changes in the range of the 539 species of birds native to Europe in the 30 years since the first REFLUX, which was published in 1997 but was based on observations from the 1980s. It shows that since the first study, each population has been found approximately 28 kilometers further north.

Mediterranean species such as the European bee-eater and the little egret are now reaching the UK, France and the Netherlands, mainly due to milder winters. Eurasian bitterns, magpie avocets and red kites have also expanded their ranges, possibly in response to better habitat protection coupled with laws prohibiting persecution.

Overall, 35 percent of birds increased their breeding range and 25 percent contracted their breeding range. (Otherwise, they either showed no change or the trend is unknown.) Forest birds and those protected by international law have generally increased their range, while birds of agricultural land occupy a total area. smaller.

In general, if a species is present in more areas, it is less likely to become extinct, but it could expand because of habitat deterioration and not because the population has increased. “The results confirm that the main drivers are climate change and land use change. At the same time, the situation is really very complex, and that is why we will provide this dataset for further exploration and investigation, ”said Petr Voříšek from the Czech Ornithological Society.

Iván Ramírez, Senior Conservation Officer at BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, said: “Birds that have been legally protected fare better than those that are not. This is a really important message within the European Union. We have one of the oldest policies –the birds directive– and we can prove that it works. “Birds protected by the Bern Convention, such as white tailed eagles, also do better.

As the climate warms, forests expand into the boreal and arctic regions. In parts of northern Europe there has also been tree planting (mainly for wood and paper) and land abandonment (especially in Mediterranean areas), which have damaged the birds of the agricultural land but have benefited many woodland species such as woodpeckers and warblers.

Alpine species also lose out as bushy trees and vegetation colonize higher mountain slopes, reducing the range of mountain grassland specialists such as wall climbers and water pipes.

In general, farmland birds are big losers, suffer from an overall population decline and reduced distribution because intensification of agriculture means there is less food, such as insects. and crop residues. A report entitled “The State of Nature in the EU 2013-2018” showed 80 percent of key habitats were in poor or poor condition, and intensive agriculture is a major factor in the decline. Birds of UK farmland have decreased by 55% since 1970.

If birds are forced to enter new habitats at the edge of their range, this can also put stress on them, especially migratory species such as swifts and swifts. swallows, where small calendar changes have huge implications. “Birds are optimized machines,” Ramírez said. “They have been learning for generations and millennia to make these migrations. They were genetically engineered to migrate from X kilometers. If you put X plus 10 or 15 kilometers, you turn them on. “

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