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Rising temperature is causing decline in bird diversity in cities

When cities get too hot, birds are leaving just like humans. A study in China looked at 336 cities and found that buildings and paved areas

By Ground Report
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Rising temperature is causing decline in bird diversity in cities

When cities get too hot, birds are leaving just like humans. A study in China looked at 336 cities and found that buildings and paved areas that hold heat make birds lose diversity. This was discovered by scientists from Zhejiang University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and it's in the Science of the Total Environment journal.

Cities' heat affects bird diversity

Cities are known to trap heat, creating an "urban heat island." The study shows that this heat affects birds. Birds move to cooler places outside the city, making the city have fewer types of birds, especially when it's not breeding season. This happens regardless of the city's size or location.

The researchers used data from bird studies in China and checked how hot each city was compared to its suburbs. They found that the heat in the city makes bird diversity decrease during both breeding and nonbreeding seasons, especially during the nonbreeding time.

A study of birds in 336 cities in China found that rising buildings and concrete in cities trap heat, which is directly linked to a decline in bird diversity.

In this regard, Frank La Sorte, a researcher associated with Cornell Lab and study, has informed in a press release that this is the first study of its kind that shows how the urban heat island effect is directly related to the diversity of birds in different seasons. .

Explain that the places where there are concrete or concrete structures in the cities, the temperature is higher than other green areas. This is because buildings, roads and other infrastructure in cities that are made of concrete can absorb much more of the sun's heat than other natural things like plants, water bodies, etc.

Heat harmed birds, defying expectations

The study showed a surprising result. The researchers thought that during the cold nonbreeding season, more birds might stay in the warm city, making more types of birds. But that didn't happen. The heat effect was bad for birds in all seasons in most parts of China.

However, in one area, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the heat actually helped bird diversity. Birds there could handle the extreme temperatures better. With the world getting hotter due to climate change, cities will become even hotter. This makes things harder for birds that already face problems like pollution. Plants can help cool cities down, but this study shows it's not enough in most of China. Researchers want to find out how much greenery is needed to make cities better for both birds and people.

According to the scientist, the heat island effect can increase the daytime temperature in urban areas by up to eight degrees Celsius. Because of this, a huge difference in temperature can be seen within a short distance.

In this regard, La Sorte has informed that, "The urban heat island effect is not limited to Chinese cities only." According to him, what has been revealed in this study is probably happening in other big cities of the world where there are too many roads and buildings as well as lack of greenery. According to research, no matter how big the city is or where it is, due to the heat, the diversity of birds remains less.

Using bird diversity data, researchers checked city heat

In this research, scientists have used the information obtained from the ongoing study on the diversity of birds in China. In addition, they have also tried to know how hot the cities are compared to their surrounding suburbs. Scientists used to think that when birds are not breeding, their diversity is higher in cities, but this is not the case.

"We were surprised to find that the loss of bird diversity was even greater during the non-breeding season," says Jiayu Wu, a scientist with the study and from Zhejiang University. The effect may make it easier for birds to stay warm in winter, especially in colder cities. So we expected that the diversity of birds would be higher during this period."

However, in contrast, the urban heat island effect negatively affected bird diversity in both breeding and non-breeding seasons in the south, north and northwest parts of China. The researchers believe that adaptations in birds living in alpine environments on mountains may increase their tolerance to rising temperatures, allowing native birds to thrive in the region's urban areas.

According to research, due to the way the climate is changing, there is a possibility of the cities getting even more hot. Because of this, the challenges for birds living in these urban areas will increase. These birds are already facing threats like increasing pollution and habitat loss.

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