Australian birds and climate change

This video is called Australian birds, mostly parrots.

From Emu journal in Australia:

Feeling the heat: Australian landbirds and climate change


Earth’s climate is warming at an unprecedented rate, with the current trend ascribed primarily to anthropogenic alteration of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (IPCC 2007). Recent evidence suggests that warming is occurring even more rapidly than predicted by most models used in the 2007 assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (Rahmstorf et al. 2007; van Oldenborgh et al. 2009). These observations, combined with the current lack of concerted political will to significantly reduce global carbon emissions (typified by the ineffectual outcome of the recent COP 17 climate talks in Durban), suggest that climate scenarios that are presently viewed as worst-case may in fact be the most likely future outcomes.

Climate change is currently recognised as the single greatest threat to global biodiversity because its effects are felt in virtually every habitat on the planet. Although most scenarios are built around models of what the world’s climate might look like several decades from now, the reality is that significant biological effects of climate change are already being manifested as extinctions (Pounds et al. 1999; Thomas et al. 2006) and rapid shifts in the distributions of species inhabiting latitudes ranging from polar to equatorial (Chen et al. 2011).

Extreme heatwaves also have dire consequences for humans – a recent report noted that, over the last 200 years, fatalities during heatwaves have outnumbered those caused by any other natural hazard in Australia, and the death-toll is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades (PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia 2011).

Australia, as a predominantly hot and arid continent with terrestrial avifauna largely confined to the region (Dingle 2004), is expected to see significant effects on avian diversity and abundance. Indeed, Australia is already something of a ‘poster-continent’ for the effects of climate change on landbirds because historical records provide unparalleled insights into just how devastating heatwaves and droughts can be for avian communities.

Recent mortality events associated with heatwaves (discussed below) highlight the effects of more frequent periods of very hot weather for common and nomadic birds, but also for species considered threatened.

In this editorial, we focus on the direct effects of extreme weather to draw attention to the likely severity of the effects of climate change on Australian landbirds.

We also outline a conceptual framework for predicting the effects of climate change on birds in hot, arid terrestrial ecosystems, and ome of the ways in which this information may be used to inform onservation decisions. One key advantage of the mechanistic, process-driven approach we describe here is that it can be used to identify potential mitigation measures, for instance via the artificial manipulation of thermal landscapes.

Our message is that Australian ornithologists should be urgently seeking ways to predict how climate change will affect arid-zone bird communities, particularly with regard to already threatened avifauna, and identify appropriate mitigation strategies.

Avian mortality during heatwaves

Deaths of birds during extremely hot weather are not a new occurrence in Australia; as early as 1791 the Reverend Richard Johnson, a chaplain at Port Jackson (Sydney), New South Wales (NSW), referred in a letter to temperatures so high that ‘Birds, unable to bear the heat, have great Numbers, dropped from the trees & expired’ (available at, accessed 20 December 2011). By far the most catastrophic event recorded took place in January 1932, when a severe heatwave struck a large portion of southern central Australia (Fig. 1). The April 1932 issue of the South Australian Ornithologist contained several accounts of widespread mortality, which collectively portray the deaths of many millions of birds. Finlayson (1932), for instance, provided a vivid account of thousands of dead and dying Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus), Zebra Finches (Taenopygia guttata) and other birds in and around Rumbalara Siding on a day when the air temperature reached ~49C. He noted that ‘The condition of the birds was undoubtedly a true temperature effect, and not due to thirst, as the railway people had put out several pans of water, and only a small proportion were attempting to drink’. Another observer documented the deaths of tens of thousands of birds (mainly parrots) in water troughs near Tarcoola, South Australia (SA) (McGilp 1932).

Who Is Behind the Conspiracy Against Climate Change Science? Richard Schiffman, Truthout: “Over 70 percent of Americans believe that climate change is either happening now or will be soon – many remain divided about how serious the problem is; 42 percent of those polled by Gallup in March believed that the impacts were being exaggerated. This confusion seems to have been the intention of the denialists all along – not to disprove climate change … but to cast just enough paralyzing doubt to muddy the waters and prevent the United States from getting serious about restricting greenhouse gas emissions”: here.

Koch-funded climate scientist: I was wrong, humans are to blame for global warming: here.

University of Western Australia Staff, The Universtiy of Western Australia: “The results showed that those who subscribed to one or more conspiracy theories or who strongly supported a free market economy were more likely to reject the findings from climate science as well as other sciences. The researchers, led by UWA School of Psychology Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, found that free-market ideology was an overwhelmingly strong determinant of the rejection of climate science. It also predicted the rejection of the link between tobacco and lung cancer and between HIV and AIDS”: here.

Avian species-assemblage structure and indicator bird species of mangroves in the Australian monsoon tropics: here.

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