Birds are some of nature’s most wonderful creatures. Their beauty and grace have fascinated people for centuries. However, as it turns out, birds can also be great indicators of environmental change. A recently published study showed that in recent decades, European birds have changed their choice of migration sites and now prefer the northeast of the continent. This has piqued the interest of scientists, who decided to find out the reasons for this shift.
The study, conducted by scientists from different countries, covered almost all European bird species. They studied the influence of various factors on the change in bird migration over the past 30 years. It turned out that shifts in migration are related to obstacles, such as mountain ranges and coastlines. In general, birds are moving to cooler areas, but their rate of movement is insufficient to keep up with the overall increase in temperature.
Climate change is having a profound effect on ecosystems and birds around the world. So far, however, the planet’s biodiversity has not always responded to climate change in the expected way, leaving many questions unanswered. But new research allows us to gain a deeper understanding of these processes.
According to Dr. Emma-Liina Marjakangas of the University of Helsinki, Finland, two-thirds of bird communities have moved to cooler areas over the past 30 years, shifting an average of 100 kilometers, especially north and east. This is clear evidence that shifts are governed by large-scale barriers. Birds are found to move longer distances when they are farther from the shoreline. This indicates that the shoreline acts as a barrier to prevent birds from “keeping up” with climate change.
However, shorebirds are in particular danger from climate change. As Dr. Laura Bosco points out, such communities often consist of rare and unique species. Climatic conditions become unsuitable for these bird species, which at the same time cannot move to more suitable areas because of additional obstacles.
From a Finnish perspective, this can have serious consequences. Some bird species, such as the nuthatch, middle spotted and green woodpecker or wading tit, have problems moving from Sweden or the Baltic to the cooler areas of Finland because the Baltic Sea acts as a barrier.
This study gives us a better understanding of how climate change affects birds. It also highlights the need to protect nature and biodiversity. Birds play an important role in ecosystems, and their displacement can have serious consequences for all nature.