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Changing Climate in Hawaii Affects Birds

December 8, 2013
birds and climate change

Original artwork by R. Mason

Air temperatures are increasing at a much higher rate on Hawaii’s mountains than along the coasts. Currently, high elevation forests are the primary refuge for our few remaining native bird species because avian disease-carrying mosquitoes cannot survive the cooler temperatures. However, increasingly warmer conditions will allow mosquitoes to survive at higher elevations. Native birds cannot simply move further upslope because the habitat is often unsuitable. Just on Hawai‘i Island alone, the incidence of malaria in forest birds has more than doubled over a decade, in correlation with warmer summer air temperatures and an increase in mosquito breeding.

Ninety-three percent of Hawaiian birds are considered vulnerable to climate change. The very existence of birds such as ‘i‘iwi which live mainly in high-elevation forests, is threatened by rising temperatures. For example, a 3.6°F rise in average regional temperature could cause an important natural reserve on Maui to lose 57% of its remaining low-risk area for avian malaria, increasing the risk of infection to birds like the endangered kiwikiu and ākohekohe.

This Week’s MYTH  Buster: “People don’t cause climate change.”

People affect their environments. The climate change trends we are seeing today are directly related to increasing levels of greenhouse gases that people released from burning coal, gas, and oil starting in the 19th century.

I Will Make a Difference: by changing all of my light bulbs to energy savers.

More on the National Park Service and climate change:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2013 8:59 am

    Reblogged this on High on Science & Tech – H.O.S.T.

  2. December 8, 2013 9:15 am

    Reblogged this on High on Science & Tech – H.O.S.T.

  3. Matt Black permalink
    December 8, 2013 10:01 pm

    The fastest ecosystem deterioration on the planet. Our native plants are all but gone. Now the species of animal that gave us our vegetation, our trees, our soil are disappearing faster than we can save them. Malama the Aina. Please kokua and protect all that is sacred. Warmest Aloha to anyone that cares and can help. Matt Black. Let’s do something now! Save the Akepa, I’iwi, and the Maui Parrotbill. Don’t allow extinction! Kauai’s – Akialoa is gone! Such gentle animals deserve our protection.

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