The birds that are winning thanks to climate change


AnhingaThey may be separated by an ocean, but birds in the US and Europe are responding to climate change in a surprisingly similar way: winners are outperforming losers to a comparable degree.

Some of the biggest winners in the US include Cassin’s kingbird, the Anhinga and the orchard oriole. Losers include the Canada warbler, the white-throated sparrow and the common grackle. In Europe, it’s species like the bee-eater, Cetti’s warbler and the chiffchaff that are performing better, while the brambling and willow tit fare poorly.

These findings were made by examining how the occurrence of some 145 species of European bird and 380 species from the US changed in relation to climate between 1980 and 2010. “This allowed us to decide whether each species had been advantaged or disadvantaged by climate change,” says Stephen Willis of Durham University in the UK.

His team then used yearly bird census data from every country or US state to see how each advantaged and disadvantaged species was faring.

They found that, although the US and European birds’ response differed in many ways, the degree to which advantaged birds outperform more disadvantaged species has been similar. “Climate seems to be having a consistent effect,” says Willis.


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