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Housing Development Affects Birds Populations as Much as Climate Change

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sciencepress-021612-001-617x416The journal of Landscape Ecology published a study on the way climate change and housing development affect breeding of birds in California. Dennis Jongsomjit and a team of scientists of PRBO Conservation Science (PRBO) established that the threat changes in land use, and in particular new housing developments, present to bird species could be as big as the influence of climate change.

Although scientists are well aware of the fact that new infrastructure and developments can cause habitat loss and degradation, the main focus of recent studies is the influence of climate change.

Dennis Jongsomjit emphasizes that while all attention is paid to one factor, the influence of the others is somehow underestimated. In this sense, his study not only examines the impact of climate on birds shifts and distribution, but also relates this to the conditions that future land use changes will offer to the species.

By doing this, the scientists were able to compare and examine both threats, which allowed them to gain better understanding of the influence of each. They looked at data collected from numerous locations in California and modeled the distribution of 64 bird species using climate models developed at UC Santa Cruz.

The climate models were then added to models for future housing developments, and the impact of each was assessed.

The results varied between species and locations. As Dr. John Wiens, PRBO Chief Scientist, points out, the study showed that the places were climate change is predicted to have the highest impact, are not necessary the places with the most development pressure. However, the problem for most species is where these two factors coincide.

Based on their findings, the scientists suggest that in order to allow species to adapt to changes due to climate change, we should try and limit other factors that influence their distribution. The only way to do this, however, is to join forces and have conservation practitioners and land-use planners work closely together. This is especially needed since the impact of climate change is already visible.

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1 COMMENT

  1. If we could raise awareness on birds window collisions. That could save a lot of birds too. Too bad morr buildings didn’t use bird safe glass but least there are some cities who don’t lights out during bird migration. Perhaps. Similar to how humans have many story buildings, we could create multi story habitats for wildlife as a way to reduce habitat loss. It’d be similar to a parking lot with multiple levels except have soil on top of the cement, and plant trees in the soil with the trees that require the least amount of Sun on the bottom level….and add additional things in nature that helps create a healthy ecosystem such as bees, birds, insects, or provide a home for endangered species who live in that particular environment…. additionally one could also have nature cruise ships in addition to the nature habitat parking ramps as a way to provide more habitat for wildlife and serve as a refuge or rescue site for migrating birds who got stranded from recent hurricanes since that happens a bit. .and these nature cruise ships could also additionally house a few birders or bird watchers who could help pay for expenses via the cost of their ticket or trip to go on that cruise ship… activities would probably be aimed morr towards helping wildlife too such as a class to make birdhouses, planting trees, feeding the birds to maintain the rescue site for birds and other similar activities

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