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2018-08-06. Mojave birds crashed over last century due to climate change.

posted Aug 18, 2018, 10:15 PM by Alan D. GOULD BA
By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. [http://news.berkeley.edu/2018/08/06/mojave-birds-crashed-over-last-century-due-to-climate-change/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8, Losing Biodiversity chapter 1, and Ecosystem Change chapter 4. Excerpt: Bird communities in the Mojave Desert straddling the California/Nevada border have collapsed over the past 100 years, most likely because of lower rainfall due to climate change, according to a new University of California, Berkeley, study. A three-year survey of the area, which is larger than the state of New York, concludes that 30 percent, or 39 of the 135 bird species that were there 100 years ago, are less common and less widespread today. The 61 sites surveyed lost, on average, 43 percent of the species that were there a century ago. “Deserts are harsh environments, and while some species might have adaptations that allow them to persist in a desert spot, they are also at their physiological limits,” said Kelly Iknayan, who conducted the survey for her doctoral thesis at UC Berkeley. “California deserts have already experienced quite a bit of drying and warming because of climate change, and this might be enough to push birds over the edge. It seems like we are losing part of the desert ecosystem.” ...The loss of bird species has happened even though much of the Mojave Desert is protected national park or preserve, including Death Valley National Park, one of the nation’s largest. “This is a shot across the bow of our nation’s national jewels, telling us that climate change is already having an adverse impact even in our largest national parks and wilderness areas, and that we have got to reduce dependence on fossil fuels by smartly employing green energy,” said Steven Beissinger, senior author of the study and a UC Berkeley professor of environmental science, policy and management....

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