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Bird Extinctions May Have Started Already

Biologists warn that global warming and the destruction of natural habitats will lead to significant declines and extinctions in the world?s 8,750 terrestrial bird species over the next century. In Scotland, they're already noticing the disappearance of seabirds. It's the middle of their breeding season, but the cliffs where there should be thousands of birds remain almost empty. And if we should be so unlucky (or foolish) as to have a nuclear accident, which bird species are most likely to disappear?

In a new study, scientists warn that, even under the most optimistic scenarios of controlling climate change and protecting habitats, at least 400 bird species are projected to become imperiled by the year 2050 due to reductions in their geographic ranges of greater than 50%. Biologist Walter Jetz says, "We found in our study that under certain assumptions by the year 2100, 950 to 1,800 bird species may be imperiled or even driven to extinction by climate change and habitat destruction. Most of these species are currently not recognized as imperiled."

This may have already happened in Scotland. BBC News reports that the seabirds are having a "disastrous" breeding season, because climate change seems to be disrupting their food supply. Scotland?s coastline support almost half of Europe?s seabird breeding population.

In LiveScience.com, Melinda Wenner reports that birds with brighter plumage are more likely to survive the effects of radiation exposure. This knowledge came from studying the birds that survived the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine. This is because birds with brighter plumage have more cancer-fighting antioxidants in their bodies. Maybe we need to learn the language of the birds before it?s too late!

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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