Shorebirds, especially, are imperiled by rising seas and habitat loss
More than one hundred species of California’s birds are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Scientists at the California Department of Fish and Game and PRBO Conservation Science examined nearly 400 species and subspecies for a study, released today. Of those, 128 are at risk.
San Francisco Bay is home to the majority of the most vulnerable birds. “That’s primarily because of sea level rise and also because there are already so many imperiled species that use that habitat in the bay,” says Tom Gardali, an ecologist is PRBO Conservation Science.
Those species include the endangered California Clapper Rail and three song sparrows found only in the Bay Area. “With sea level rise, the habitat that exists could be underwater if there’s no place for it to grow into because of development,” says Gardali. Birds that inhabit rocky coastline could also be at risk for the same reason, including the Black Oystercatcher, Common Murre, and Pigeon Guillemot.
Birds Species Most Vulnerable
to Climate Change in California
California Least Tern
California Clapper Rail
Suisun Song Sparrow
Samuel’s Song Sparrow
Alameda Song Sparrow
Yellow Rail (winter)
California Black Rail
Yuma Clapper Rail
Twenty-one of the state’s 29 threatened and endangered species are on the list. “It is more than likely that some of these species are already feeling the effects of climate change,” he says. “Massive changes to the ocean foods web could very well be a direct effect of climate change, as well as prolonged droughts or droughts more frequently.”
Garbali says the California Department of Fish and Game will use the date to update their list of species of special concern, which hasn’t included climate change effects to date. The agency could use also the information in revising the California Wildlife Action Plan. “State and federal agencies will consider the threat of climate change. That will become business as usual. It will have to be.”
“I think you could see this study as an opportunity to start planning now and we have time to make a difference for California’s biodiversity,” says Gardali.