humming bird

Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Wildife

Desert Trees
Unsplash

Report: Exposure to climate change drives stability or collapse of desert mammal and bird communities

Birds are facing conditions that exceed their physiological limits, according to this new research published in Science.

“Understanding how our warming climate affects vulnerable species is of paramount importance. However, predicting responses is complicated because species are complex and may adapt or respond in distinct ways…”

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Cactus Wren
Gaetan Dupont/Audubon Photography Awards

How desert birds can survive with very little water

This brief and interesting audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide. It might be fun to check it out.

In the desert Southwest, summer temperatures sizzle, rising well over 100 degrees. And in some parts of the desert, there is not a drop of water for miles.

Yet some birds thrive in this scorching landscape. Here a Black-throated Sparrow sings from a thorn scrub. Now, a Cactus Wren announces itself atop a barrel cactus. And neither will be flying miles every day to the nearest source of water. So how do they survive?

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Desert Bird
Natural History Archive/Alamy

How climate change pushes even the hardiest desert birds past their limit

Many think that birds can adapt to climate change. Growing research shows this is not the case. Given how many people care about birds, this is a good way to connect with folks to address climate solutions—including getting off fossil fuels (the use of which is the driver of climate change).

The Mojave Desert, like many deserts across the world, is getting hotter and drier. Over the last century, it’s warmed by about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), and its already sparse rainfall has declined by 20 percent in some areas. Even before modern climate change, the Mojave’s birds lived at extremes; many desert birds have evolved special drought adaptations to save water. Now they’re facing conditions that exceed their physiological limits, according to new research published in Science.

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Elk In The Mountains
Reuters, Jim Yurquhart

Wildlife diseases poised to spread northwards as climate changes: study

As the world’s climate warms, parasite-carried wildlife diseases will move north, with animals in cold far-north and high-altitude regions expected to suffer the most dramatic increases, warns a study to be published…in the journal Science.

The study projects increasing spread over the next five decades of wildlife diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, and infectious worms. There are serious implications for humans, said co-author Jason Rohr of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana…

If warming is slowed, however, there will be “much, much smaller increases in infectious disease in wildlife,” Rohr said…

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Pollinator Pair
Richard Hurd

Pollinators on the decline in Indiana and the United States

Numbers of honeybees, one of the most widely tracked pollinator species because of their contributions to the food supply, are falling by as much as 30 percent each winter in the U.S. and in Indiana...

Indiana and the nation as a whole are still seeing some loss in honeybees. The problem is so prevalent President Barack Obama issued a memorandum directing government agencies to take additional steps to protect and restore domestic populations of pollinators, including honey bees, butterflies, native bees, birds and bats…

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Solar And Pollinators Incoming
Fresh Energy

The Center for Pollinators in Energy

Bees, monarchs, and other critical pollinators are disappearing, and scientists agree that loss of habitat is a primary concern. Because the United States solar industry first took off in the desert Southwest, a standard practice for the land on solar sites is gravel and/or monocrop lawn grass.

That changed in 2016 when Fresh Energy, Audubon Minnesota, and the Minnesota Corn Growers worked with agricultural and business leaders to establish the nation’s first statewide standard for vegetation on solar sites…

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Smart Siting Solar
Engie Solar

‘A magical solution’: solar developers planting flowers that could help save butterflies and bees

If we are going to slow down climate change fast enough to save the lands and waters we love, we are going to have to transition to renewables in a big way. Research shows that it can't all be on rooftops, parking areas, and brownfields. That will mean creating "compatible" solar: solar designed to work in partnership with farms, ranches, and pollinators. You can start sharing good examples to bring your community (and fellow conservationists) along on this journey.

For more than a century, Logansport’s electricity was generated using gritty black coal. Now, its latest generating facility will feature 80 acres of solar panels, and something far more attractive—flowers.

Solar projects with habitats such as these, called pollinator-friendly solar projects, have been launched in 20 states, according to the Center for Pollinators in Energy. At least three new pollinator-friendly solar projects have been announced in Indiana this year.

Habitat loss and exposure to chemicals such as pesticides have killed off large portions of bee, butterfly, fly, and beetle populations. Numbers of honeybees, one of the most widely tracked pollinator species because of their contributions to the food supply, are falling by as much as 30 percent each winter in the U.S. and in Indiana…

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Camo Owl
Pixabay

Pyrodiversity promotes avian diversity over the decade following forest fire

In this 2016 paper, UCLA ornithologist Morgan Tingley concluded that “pyrodiversity increases biodiversity.” Between 2009 and 2014 he led bird surveys across 465,000 acres of burned conifer forest in California’s Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade mountains. The data showed that in the decade following wildfire, areas that experienced different burn severities developed into unique habitats, each with its own bird community.

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Owl Friends
Danny Hofstadter

Recent ‘megafires’ imperil even fire-loving forest birds

It will be important for land trusts to help their communities understand that land management is part of the solution—but that climate change is completely changing the game. Previous scientific assumptions are now having to change.

Many birds, such as owls and woodpeckers, thrive in forest habitats created after fire. But the hotter, bigger, more destructive megafires out West might be too much even for them…

In a 2016 paper, UCLA ornithologist Morgan Tingley concluded that “pyrodiversity increases biodiversity.” Between 2009 and 2014 he led bird surveys across 465,000 acres of burned conifer forest in California’s Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascade mountains. The data showed that in the decade following wildfire, areas that experienced different burn severities developed into unique habitats, each with its own bird community.

But megafires like the King Fire have disrupted this historical cycle. Their relentless intensity often leaves less pyrodiversity. Instead they create larger areas of sheer destruction…

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Bumblebee Two
Pixabay

Climate change puts bees and flowering plants out of sync

You and your land trust can help your community understand the necessity of acting on climate to save the bees—including the importance of solar developments that are designed as pollinator habitat.

Warmer spring temperatures are causing bees to hatch earlier, putting them out of sync with the flowers that they pollinate, a new study shows.

The researchers say the study is the first of its kind to show climate change affecting the sort of relationships between species that have evolved together over millions of years…

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