Desert Birds At Risk
Heat waves often take a devastating toll on people, but intense heat can also affect birds and mammals; just like humans, they can perish in heat waves without adequate water and shelter. Scientist Blair Wolf from the University of New Mexico and his colleague Andrew McKechnie from the University of Pretoria, South Africaare studying how desert bird populations respond to increased global temperatures. They’ve found that the more intense heat waves associated with an increase in average global temperatures accelerates evaporative water loss in small birds, increasing their risk of heat stroke and death. Using climate model projections of future global temperature increases and a model simulating the water budget for birds, the scientists found that birds living in desert near Yuma, AZ in the 2080s will be more prone to increased evaporative water loss compared to large birds. This increased water loss will lead to a 25% decrease in survival time for small birds.
This research will be presented at Global Change and Global Science: Comparative Physiology in a Changing World, sponsored by the American Physiological Society. Read the full press release on EurekaAlert.