Tags: birds | decline | northamerica

N America's Bird Population Has Declined by 30M Since 1970

N America's Bird Population Has Declined by 30M Since 1970
(AP)

Friday, 20 September 2019 04:20 PM

In just 50 years bird populations in the U.S. and Canada have declined by almost 30% and scientists are worried this could mean an impending biodiversity crisis.

"These bird losses are a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife," said Ken Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

He led a team of scientists in analyzing the population trends among 529 bird species. The study set out to quantify the total decline in bird populations in the continental U.S. and Canada.

By analyzing data gathered by various sources over several years, they recorded a loss of 2.9 billion birds since 1970. Rosenberg said the findings were "an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment."

The research shows massive losses among hundreds of species of birds but some types were experiencing a much greater decline in population, such as grassland birds. Their population has gone down by 53 percent since 1970. Researchers believe habitat loss is one of the major contributing factors for this steady decline of birds.

"I think this analysis shows that we’re eating away at the foundations of all of our major ecosystems on the continent," said Arvind Panjabi, study co-author. "These numbers show that the world has changed a lot since 1970."

The use of toxic chemicals may also have a role to play in the declining bird populations, Popular Science noted. In fact, recent studies have found that a common insecticide used in agriculture delayed the migration of sparrows eating seeds coated in the toxin. 

There is some good news, though. Certain bird populations are doing well thanks largely to government intervention. This success shows that there is still hope for struggling populations.

"When we’ve invested to combat declines for a particular group birds, we’ve succeeded," said Panjabi. "Other birds could benefit from a similar approach." Nicole Michel, senior quantitative ecologist at the National Audubon Society, added that, when given a chance, bird populations can recover.

"And this is important because birds and humans share the same fate; by protecting birds and their habitat, you also protect people and other wildlife that depend on the same places," she said, according to Popular Science. "What’s good for birds is good for people."

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In just 50 years bird populations in the U.S. and Canada have declined by almost 30% and scientists are worried this could mean an impending biodiversity crisis."These bird losses are a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support...
birds, decline, northamerica
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2019-20-20
Friday, 20 September 2019 04:20 PM
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