REPORTS change. Likely climate change impacts are identified: from increased temperatures, changes to rainfall and extreme events such as fire, cyclones and other storms; to altered plant growth and changed distribution of vegetation as CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increase; and for marine birds the effects of sea-level rise on nesting sites and changes to the abundance and location of oceanic prey.
Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Australian Birds http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6995.htm Editors: Stephen Garnett & Donald Franklin CSIRO Publishing ISBN: 9780643108028 AUD$69.95 I’m watching the mixed flock of birds in my backyard and thinking about adaptability. This crew are common visitors; each gleaning some of the spoils that inevitably spill over after feeding chickens, a dog, a worm farm and two compost bins. I think this urban mix of cockatoos, rosellas, magpies, currawongs and noisy miners could adapt to just about anything. They have – to different degrees – found humans to be a fruitful neighbor. But, what about the other 700 or so species of bird that call Australia home? How vulnerable are they to change? How adaptable are they? A new book ‘Climate Change Action Plan for Australian Birds’ makes a fine attempt to assess these questions in terms of future warming. As the editors, Professors Stephen T. Garnett and Donald C. Franklin, both of the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods at Charles Darwin University, point out – Australia’s climate is changing rapidly… the consequences for many Australian bird species are likely to be adverse, though others will doubtless benefit. The first three chapters discuss the exposure, sensitivity and vulnerability of Australian birds to climate
A key section of the book is the discussion of management options; from the do-nothing, wait-and-see option; through intensive species management strategies such as translocation, predator control, habitat manipulation and captive breeding. The last resort would be preserving populations by saving species in captivity or at the worst storing genetic material. Fundamental to any management actions is the monitoring of bird populations and their habitats and the production of management models such as the ones developed in this study.
“To assess exposure, the authors use Global Climate Models (GCMs) combined with taxon-specific climate space (CS) models using ecological data that they had collated on 16.5 million bird records! ”
To assess exposure, the authors use Global Climate Models (GCMs) combined with taxon-specific climate space (CS) models using ecological data that they had collated on 16.5 million bird records! However, knowing how exposed birds are to climate change doesn’t predict how individual species will respond. Species show different sensitivity to all sorts of environmental change. A species’ sensitivity is a reflection of its life-history traits, genetic diversity and capacity to adapt to changing resources such as habitat and food. The authors therefore also aggregated these factors into a sensitivity score ranging from not sensitive to highly sensitive. The second two-thirds of the book provides individual accounts of species which meet the criteria for being very highly exposed and very highly sensitive to climate change. From the Brown Cuckoo-Dove to Horsfields’s Bushlark we learn why some birds are especially vulnerable to climate change and what adaptation strategies might be used to protect them. We learn about the ecology of each of the birds as well as their current abundance, the threats that they face and about any existing management strategies that are already in place. Importantly, we learn about the exposure that these species are likely to face by 2085 under current greenhouse gas emissions rates; how sensitive will they be to the effects of this exposure; and the adaptation strategies and management actions that will be necessary to protect them under these conditions. Although limiting emission of greenhouse gases is an essential element of future conservation strategies, the authors point out that the greatest threat to all wildlife arises from habit loss and fragmentation. One of the best protections, therefore, will be reducing non-climate-related stresses so that vulnerable and sensitive
SEPTEMBER 2014 AUSTRALIAN MARINE SCIENCES ASSOCIATION INC. www.amsa.asn.au
Bulletin of the Australian Marine Sciences Association