Researchers Predict Massive Avian Decline

As part of the most comprehensive study on worldwide avian biodiversity to date, researchers from Stanford University predict that within a century, 10 percent of bird species in the world will be extinct, with an additional 15 percent endangered. The study pinpoints habitat loss, diseases, climate change and over-exploitation as key factors contributing to the expected precipitous avian decline. Researchers added that since many bird diseases can cross over to other types of animals, widespread epidemics could significantly affect human health as well.

“Even though only 1.3 percent of bird species have gone extinct since 1500, the global number of individual birds is estimated to have experienced a 20 to 25 percent reduction during the same period,” says lead author Cagan Sekercioglu of Stanford. “Given the momentum of climate change, widespread habitat loss and increasing numbers of invasive species, avian declines and extinctions are predicted to continue unabated in the near future.”

Researchers used elaborate computer models to analyze data on all 9,797 species of birds alive today, as well as on the 129 recently extinct species. The information gathered comprises the most comprehensive databases ever compiled on the state of one class of animals, and will be invaluable to researchers and wildlife advocates moving forward.