Azara Blog: French birds are allegedly not moving fast enough in response to climate change

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Date published: 2008/08/20

The BBC says:

French birds are moving northwards in response to climate change, but not fast enough, scientists have found.

Their data came from a large survey in which volunteer ornithologists counted more than 105 species of bird.

In the Royal Society journal Proceedings B, researchers say that the birds are lagging some 182km behind the increases in temperature.

This lag may be of particular concern to rare birds or species that have very specific food requirements.

"The flora and fauna around us are shifting over time due to climate change," said Vincent Devictor, who led the research project from the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) in Paris.

"The result is desynchronisation. If birds and the insects on which they depend do not react in the same way, we are headed for an upheaval in the interaction between species," he told the AFP news agency.

At its worst, this desynchronisation could result in species extinctions, he said.
This study did not examine whether the failure to "keep up" with rising temperatures was affecting the birds.

Evidence from other studies suggests it depends on the species involved, their habitat, how their prey are responding to climate change, and what other threats and constraints they face.

This kind of "desynchronisation" effect is bound to happen, so it is hardly surprising. The real question, which this study singularly failed to address, is whether this has any real impact. No doubt many birds, like lots of other species, will be perfectly capable of adjusting to a changed environment. But never let reality get in the way of an alarmist press story.

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