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SOURCE: Haaretz Israel News

DATE: July 23, 2018

SNIP: Birds are twice as vulnerable to climate change as mammals, an international team of scientists has concluded after checking 481 species in 987 populations around the world.

The vulnerability of the tiger and bald eagle get extensive press, but the fact is that most mammalian and avian populations have been declining for decades. There are myriad causes, but a chief one turns out to be the sheer speed at which climate change is progressing.

Simply, they can’t adjust fast enough, concludes the report published by the Zoological Society of London on Monday, in the journal Global Change Biology.

The scientists wanted to check how the double whammy of climate change and human encroachment affects birds and mammals. What they found is that climate change matters more, and especially to birds.

That absolutely does not mean human encroachment, and habitat devastation, aren’t huge problems, the team clarifies. They are. They confined their examination to land-use and climate. But clearly the changes happening so rapidly to the planet are more than many species can cope with, even if their favorite tree is still there.

One problem birds have is that their mating season is triggered by temperature changes, explains lead author Fiona Spooner. “We think this could be leading to a desynchronization of their reproduction cycle, leading to the negative impacts we’re seeing. Mammal breeding seasons are a lot more flexible, and this is reflected in the data,” she says.