- by Graham Holton
- The Guardian
- Issue #2079
Since the 1940s Australia has seen some dramatic climatic changes, such as changes in temperature, rainfall, CO₂ concentration and Ocean dynamics, with extreme events – droughts, floods and fires – becoming more common in recent decades. These changes are witnessed in avian species diversification and distribution.
Climate impacts on breeding seasons, with the quantity, quality and types of food available. It impacts on how far birds need to travel to get adequate resources such as food and water. Many Australian birds require hollow logs for breeding, after major bushfires their numbers are greatly reduced.
“An increase in drought frequency and intensity could conceivably provide ecosystem tipping-points resulting in the generation of new, more drought-adapted (and perhaps less productive) vegetation types, with major consequences for the avifauna that are not easy to predict.”
“There exists no established framework or metric by which to assess potential exposure to climate change taxon by taxon for a complete avifauna.” The most vulnerable types of birds are Marine and Small Island bird species. “There is as yet no equivocal precedent for range change consistent with climate change among Australian terrestrial birds, and limited precedents from analogous climatic regions elsewhere.”
“A climate-change world will not be the best of times, with a large increase in stress on many wildlife species and ecosystems along with a major increase in the uncertainty of management outcomes.” It is found that “the greatest threat to wildlife is likely to be the interaction between climate change and other stressors.” “Wildlife managers, however, can provide advice to policy-makers on the consequences of current policies of biodiversity.”
Birds with the greatest sensitivity to climate change impact include the Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Chowchilla, Pied Monarch, and Grey-headed Robin.
This is a well-illustrated reference book with numerous tables, charts, and maps. It sits proudly on my shelf of bird books.