According to the publication, California birds may be sensitive to climate change in any of the following ways: 1) habitat specialization—species with narrow habitat preferences may be more sensitive to climate change than habitat generalists; 2) physiological tolerances—species with broader physiological tolerances may be less likely to be affected by climate change because they are more resilient to extreme temperatures; 3) Migratory status—migratory species may be more sensitive to climate change because the timing of their movements critically depend on climatic conditions for survival and successful reproduction; and 4) Dispersability—species with poor dispersal ability may be more sensitive to climate change because they lack the mechanisms to rapidly habitat track.
Further, climate change poses risks to species by exposing them to any of the following conditions: 1) Changes in habitat suitability—exposure to changes in habitat structure in any of a variety of ways may pose risk if habitat suitability decreases for a given species; 2) changes in food availability—exposure to changes in the availability or abundance of food sources undoubtedly affects survival and reproductive success; and 3) changes in extreme weather—extreme weather has been shown numerous times to lead to low fecundity or even nest failure in many species.
The authors scored species on all of these seven criteria and ranked vulnerability of the top 25% of scores from most vulnerable to least vulnerable to climate change. In doing so, they added five taxa not originally listed in the California Bird Species of Special Concern monograph (BSCC; 2008), and raised the priority of ten more. Further, it was found that 21 of California’s 29 state or federally threatened or endangered species were susceptible to the consequences of climate change.
By Luke Musher
To read the open access article visit: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0029507
Gardali T, Seavy NE, DiGaudio RT, Comrack LA (2012) A Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment of California's At-Risk Birds. PLoS ONE 7(3): e29507. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029507