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Indian birds under threat from climate change: Study

KOLKATA: Climate change is threatening the survival of a number of Asian bird species, including those in India, a new study warns.

The research conducted by Durham University and 
BirdLife International says that many avian species from the region are likely to suffer from climate change.

The species will require not just enhanced protection of important and protected sites, but also better management of the wider countryside, the study says.

"In some extreme cases, birds may be required to be physically moved to climatically suitable areas for survival," says the report recently published in the journal " 
Global Change Biology".

This study was conducted for 370 Asian bird species, whose conservation is a cause for concern, across the biodiversity hotspots of eastern 
Himalayas and lower Mekong River basin regions in Bhutan,Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and parts of India and Nepal.

The findings demonstrate that the survival of species will be dependent upon how conservation sites are managed and whether movement is possible from one site to another.

Projections show that at least 45 per cent and up to 88 per cent of the 370 species studied will experience decline of suitable habitats, leading to changing species composition in specific areas.

Co-lead author, Dr Robert Bagchi, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University said, "Even under the least extreme scenarios of climate change, most species we examined will have to shift their ranges in order to find suitable areas in the future".

India has a total of 466 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) identified till now hosting a wide variety of avian species with many of them in the endangered category.

Co-author Dr Stuart Butchart, head of science at BirdLife International, said, "Overall, while these important sites will continue to sustain bird species of conservation concern, climate change will modify which species each site will be suitable for. We need to adapt our conservation management. Protecting natural habitats benefits people too."

Bombay Natural History Society director Dr Asad Rahmani said, "The study further proves that we need landscape-based conservation, particularly in high biodiversity areas such as the north-eastern region of India. Climate change will impact the distribution and range of many bird species due to the changes in their habitat".

Stressing on the need for a holistic landscape-based conservation, he said that some forest dependent species, which at present may occur in protected areas, may find those areas unsuitable in the coming years due to climate change.

Times of India (07-02-2013)