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20 Jun 2013: Global Reports Underline
Threats to Planet’s Bird Species

New global research underlines the rising threats facing the world’s bird species, with three reports providing evidence that climate change, overfishing, and unsustainable agriculture are taking a heavy toll on avian populations worldwide. In a bulletinreleased earlier this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Maine puffins
USFWS
Puffins along the Maine coast.
Service (FWS) reported that numbers of some migratory bird populations along the Maine coast — including Arctic terns and puffins — have plummeted in recent years because their food supplies are disappearing as a result of commercial fishing and the shifting of fish to cooler waters, which is making it more difficult for some birds to feed their young. “We’ve seen a 40 percent decline of Arctic terns in the last 10 years,” Linda Welch, a FWS biologist, told the Washington Post. In a separate study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists predict that rising sea levels will devastate habitat for some migratory shore birds in the coming decades. Higher sea levels, the study predicts, will flood 23 percent to 40 percent of the intertidal habitats for several shorebird species in the Arctic, Southeast Asia, and Australia, triggering population declines of as much as 70 percent. Overall, one in eight bird species globally is at risk of extinction, according to a new report by BirdLife International. The biggest threats, the report says, are climate change and the loss of habitat to agriculture.


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