July 29, 2015
The Earth is undergoing profound changes to its climate. Global warming has raised the planet's average surface temperature about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial revolution. This impact on Climate Change is largely driven by human greed rather than human need.
In our opinion, humans are directly responsible for most of the threats to wildlife. Some of these threats include habitat loss, land degradation and fragmentation, pollution and over exploitation of the Planet's finite natural resources. In the coming years, human induced global warming may be the most serious threat, not only to wild life but to all of humanity, jeopardizing the life sustaining ability of our Green Planet.
Bird populations around the world are excellent bio indicators which provide crucial insights into the effects of climate change on ecosystems. All species of birds appear to be very sensitive to changes in climate, and evidence seems to indicate that this sensitivity makes them primary indicators of global climate change. They are among the best studied and monitored for changes occurring due to the impact of global warming. Scientists have found declines of up to 90 % in some bird populations, as well as total and unprecedented reproductive failure in others. Currently, there are 10,425 known living species of birds, 21 percent of which are currently prone to extinction due to a wide variety of threats.
Climate change is already having a strong negative impact on birds, affecting bird's behaviour, distribution and population dynamics across Europe, say a group of scientists publishing their findings to create the world’s first indicator of the climate change impacts on wildlife at a continental scale.
More than 350 of the Planet's most important sites for nature are threatened according to a new report by Bird Life International. Bird and biodiversity areas are places of International significance for the conservation of the world's birds. In the Indian context, 10 important bird and biodiversity areas (IBA's)are in grave danger, especially the Western Ghats bird endemic areas. It's only going to get worse, since extreme weather events are becoming more severe. Many birds are forced to shift their predictable ranges to survive and in this battle of quick adaptation, one can often see more losers than winners, resulting in significant loss of bird species which are already threatened or fail to adapt to a new environment. Impact of climate change has an interesting paradox too. On one hand, the endangered and rare species suffer but on the other some species may benefit. Both resident and migratory birds considered relatively safe may also suffer decline in populations. As the climate continues to change, some species won't be able to find suitable habitats.
Effects of Climate Change
• Birds are exposed to Harsh winters making it difficult for them to survive.
• Migratory birds may have to change their migration routes, which is no easy task.
• Wetlands which often act as refuelling stops for migratory birds may vanish resulting in food shortage.
• Many fruit and flowering trees have a delayed fruit set resulting in food shortages which force birds life cycle out of synchrony with plants upon which they depend.
• Food shortages are already causing many bird species to starve to death, resulting in population decline.
• Birds endemic (present in a particular location) to the Western Ghats may find it difficult to cope up with the shortage of food supply and may be forced to nest at different times in response to changing availability of food they depend on to feed the young.
• Birds nesting close to river banks or low lands will have their nests washed away by increased flooding due to sudden down pours.
• Salt water ingression into fresh water ecosystems will damage fragile aquatic habitats, killing fish and other insect life, there by affecting the birds that depend on them.
Birds suffer from the impact of Climate change in every continent. A status report compiled for WWF finds a clear and escalating pattern of climate change impacts on bird species around the world, suggesting a trend towards a major bird extinction from global warming. Scientists have found that bird extinction rates could be as high as 38 percent in Europe, and 72 percent in north-eastern Australia, if global warming exceeds 2 º C above pre-industrial levels (currently it is 0.8ºC above). One way of securing the future of birds is by redoubling conservation efforts to safe guard bird habitats and also curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
These birds of the Indian Sub Continent were shot by Ashley Rasquinha, director, technical, Electropneumatics and Hydraulics, during his visits to different wildlife sanctuaries and his wanderings in nature. Ashley is an avid bird watcher and brings out a calendar on wildlife each year to help people understand the value of wildlife conservation.
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