Magazine article USA TODAY

Even Tropical Birds Are Overheated

Magazine article USA TODAY

Even Tropical Birds Are Overheated

Article excerpt

The crested berrypecker has shifted its ranges up near the summit of Mt. Karimui in Papua New Guinea; predictions suggest that a warming of a further 1.8[degrees]F will result in a localized extinction. Many tropical mountain birds are shifting their ranges upslope to escape warming temperatures, but tropical species appear to be more sensitive to climate shifts than species from temperate regions, report researchers at the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, N.Y.

Climate change predictions suggest global warming will push at least four of these species into localized extinctions by the end of this century, indicates lead author and Ph.D. student Benjamin Freeman.

"Our research demonstrates that, no matter where you are on Earth, climate change is having tangible impacts," Freeman says. "In this case, the activities of industrialized nations causing climate change are causing birds in remote New Guinea, deep in tropical mountain forests, to move up the slopes to find their preferred habitat."

Mountain birds in tropical climates are moving upslope even farther and faster than those in temperate climates--almost 400 feet (or as high as a 40-story skyscraper) over the last 50 years. "Because a mountain is like a pyramid, there's less area for habitat available as they move up the mountain. They're being squeezed by temperatures and for space."

Freeman retraced scientist Jared Diamond's landmark bird surveys 50 years ago in two remote forested mountains (Mt. …

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