All birds could end up with large beaks and indistinct plumage, as climate change threatens to wipe out species with more “extreme” features.
- Birds with ‘extreme’ characteristics are most at risk of extinction due to climate change
- Scientists found that biodiversity loss in birds is likely to occur faster than expected
- The species is also developing larger beaks to help maintain its body temperature.
- The results reveal that we may lose species with unique traits beneficial to humans.
Soon you may not be able to tell your pigeon from your parrot, as climate change threatens to wipe out birds with more extreme physical characteristics.
New research from the University of Sheffield suggests they are adapting to global warming by growing large beaks and losing distinctive features.
Scientists found that the world’s smallest and largest birds are likely to be most at risk of extinction.
They also found that diversity loss could occur faster than would be expected based on species loss alone.
This could result in the extinction of birds with unique traits that could benefit humans.
Lead author Dr Emma Hughes said: “As species go extinct, you expect the traits they represent will also be lost.”
“But what we found was that with morphological diversity, traits were lost at a much, much higher rate than species loss would predict.
“This is really important because it can lead to a huge loss of ecological strategies and functions.”
The stork-billed kingfisher (pictured) is found in tropical parts of southeast Asia, an area at risk of biodiversity loss due to climate change, according to the study.
Scientists found that the world’s smallest and largest birds are likely to be most at risk of extinction. Ostriches are the largest living bird in the world (pictured)
MAMMALS ALSO CHANGE SHAPE
According to researchers at Australia’s Deakin University, mammalian species are also undergoing remarkable changes.
While most studies of the effects of climate change on mammals have focused on overall body size, some researchers have looked at changes in particular appendages.
For example, wood mice are growing longer tails, while masked shrews are growing larger tails and legs.
Bats have also been found to have increased the size of their ears, tail, legs, and wings along with warming.
The study published today in current biologydescribes how the team analyzed physical traits, such as body size, bill shape, and leg and wing length, of 8,455 bird species from around the world in museum collections.
They then modeled how biodiversity would change in a world in which species currently classified as “critically endangered,” “endangered,” and “vulnerable” went extinct, sequentially removing species from most to least threatened with extinction.
They found that as species were lost, diversity in their physical characteristics was also lost, and they tended to have small to medium-sized bodies and short beaks.
The size and shape of birds vary enormously, from the giant, flightless ostrich to the tiny, humming hummingbird.
Dr Hughes said: “We found strong evidence to support the hypothesis that larger and smaller species are likely to be most at risk of extinction.”
Like humans, birds are warm-blooded, so they must maintain a higher body temperature than their surroundings.
The researchers also found that the birds are developing larger beaks to help them maintain a constant temperature as the weather changes.
Parrot beaks, for example, have grown by as much as ten percent in the 150 years since the start of the industrial revolution.
The study results revealed that species with extreme characteristics, such as unique plumage, are more likely to be lost as a result of the effects of climate change. In the image, the black and red broadbills, which live in Cambodia, an area at risk of loss of biodiversity in birds.
Certain regions are more likely to be left with populations of bird species that resemble each other as their extreme traits are eliminated. In the photo, the Siberian blue robin
The study found that certain regions are more likely to be left with populations of bird species that resemble each other, as their extreme traits are shed.
Bird researcher Dr Hughes said: “The mountains and foothills of the Himalayas are particularly at risk, and the loss of trait diversity is likely to be considerable.”
‘The dry and humid forests of southern Vietnam and Cambodia are also vulnerable.
“They include the Siberian blue robins, the stork-billed kingfisher, the black and red broadbill, and the eastern paradise flycatcher.”
The team hopes their work will help people understand how biodiversity loss will change the world.
She added: ‘The global extinction crisis doesn’t just mean we’re losing species.
“It means we’re missing out on unique traits and evolutionary history, including species that could confer unique benefits to humanity that are currently unknown.”
Future warming threatens marine life in more than 70 percent of the most biodiverse areas of the oceans.
More than 70 percent of the most biodiverse areas of the Earth’s oceans are threatened by climate change.
The researchers determined where species would have to move to find living space amid warming oceans.
They used a new technique to compare past and future extremes of ocean warming, allowing them to map global exposure to future climate change and determine the distances species would have to move to find better weather conditions.
“Our research shows that places with exceptionally high marine biodiversity are the most exposed to future ocean warming, making them particularly vulnerable to 21st-century climate change,” said lead author Dr. Stuart Brown of the Marine Environmental Institute. the University of Adelaide.
Some of the most biodiverse ocean areas on Earth are threatened by climate change, new research reveals. Left: A caretta caretta Right: Gray reef shark and blacktip reef shark
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