Bird Migration and Global Change
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Changes in seasonal movements and population dynamics of migratory birds in response to ongoing changes resulting from global climate changes are a topic of great interest to conservation scientists and birdwatchers around the world. Because of their dependence on specific habitats and resources in different geographic regions at different phases of their annual cycle, migratory species are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
In Bird Migration and Global Change, eminent ecologist George W. Cox brings his extensive experience as a scientist and bird enthusiast to bear in evaluating the capacity of migratory birds to adapt to the challenges of a changing climate.
Cox reviews, synthesizes, and interprets recent and emerging science on the subject, beginning with a discussion of climate change and its effect on habitat, and followed by eleven chapters that examine responses of bird types across all regions of the globe. The final four chapters address the evolutionary capacity of birds, and consider how best to shape conservation strategies to protect migratory species in coming decades.
The rate of climate change is faster now than at any other moment in recent geological history. How best to manage migratory birds to deal with this challenge is a major conservation issue, and Bird Migration and Global Change is a unique and timely contribution to the literature.
"An excellent review of the challenges that global climate change poses to migratory birds. This timely and important book provides a valuable perspective and essential science-based foundation for conservation plans that will safeguard the future of land, freshwater, and marine birds."
Frank Gill, author of "Ornithology"
"A wonderful and insightful work, Bird Migration and Global Change provides the first accessible and comprehensive guide to the leading conservation concern of our time. Written by a world authority, this definitive work introduces the subject ecologically, physiologically, and geographically in ways that promote clarity and understanding."
Keith L. Bildstein, Director, Acopian Center for Conservation Science, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
"Recent rapid climate change has largely been caused by human activity and affects migratory birds with major consequences for Earth's ecosystems. Bird Migration and Global Change is a thorough and thoughtful treatise on a critical topic, and a much-needed reference work for the conservation community."
Frederick R. Gehlbach, Professor of biology, Baylor University
"Birds are exquisitely sensitive to alterations in habitat, and there is no question that they, especially migrant species, will be afected by a global change in climate. Cox (emer., San Diego State) attempts to assess what groups will be most affected and how...To condense so many major topics into less than 300 pages is no small feat, and Cox has produced a readable, nontechnical introduction to the topic, if not the definitive study."
"This is an authoritative and scholarly book that is totally accesible to the interested bird-oriented or climate/conservation-oriented audience."
Greg Laden's Blog
"Cox has written a valuable overview of our present knowledge of the effect of global climate change on migratory birds. The book is timely and informative and will be a valuable resource for field ornithologists, wildlife managers, and environmental scientists."
"This book is a valuable resource not only for the compilation of facts but also for its broad scope...The breadth of information is commendable, as is the scholarship of writing."
"This is a book that I hope will be updated so that it can continue to serve as a readable reference on the subject. Land management agency planners, managers, biologists, ecologists, and others should read this book to obtain important background on climate change and work to put in place programs of natural community restoration and maintenance."
Natural Areas Journal
"Overall, this book is an excellent review that bird enthusiasts will appreciate as a comprehensive resource."
PART I. Introduction
Chapter 1. Bird Migration and Global Change: The Birds and the Issues
PART II. The Changing Environment
Chapter 2. Global Climate Change
Chapter 3. Global Climate Change and Alteration of Migratory Bird Habitats
Chapter 4.Other Global Change Threats to Migratory Bird Habitats
PART III. Ecological Responses of Migratory Birds to Global Change
Chapter 5. Physical and Biotic Challenges to Migratory Bird Responses
Chapter 6. Northern Hemisphere Land Birds: Short-distance Migrants
Chapter 7. High-latitude Land Birds: Nearctic-Neotropical Migrants
Chapter 8. High-latitude Species of Land Birds: Palearctic Long-distance Migrants
Chapter 9. Land Birds of the Temperate Southern Hemisphere
Chapter 10. Tropical Land Birds
Chapter 11. Raptors
Chapter 12. Shorebirds
Chapter 13. Waterfowl and Other Water Birds
Chapter 14. Oceanic Birds: Northern Atlantic, Baltic, and Mediterranean Regions
Chapter 15. Oceanic Birds: North Pacific
Chapter 16. Oceanic Birds: Southern Hemisphere
PART IV. Evolutionary Responses of Migratory Birds
Chapter 17. Land Birds: Evolutionary Adaptability
Chapter 18. Water Birds: Evolutionary Adaptability
PART V. Prospects
Chapter 19. Capacity for Adjustment by Migratory Birds
Chapter 20. Conservation in an Era of Global Change
Appendix 1. Common and Scientific Names of Species Discussed in the Text
Click here for the full list of citations and references
Few things in the world have as much immediate ability to shift me into a different mood, into a different and more positive outlook, than birds—seeing them, hearing them, watching their often frenetic but joyful movements and machinations. Birds, and animals more generally, don’t receive the attention they deserve among urban designers and planners. They are so profoundly a part of the quality of life, and so important to the positive mental health of urban residents, that they ought to be given more attention in planning. And of course the many design decisions we make about our buildings and urban neighborhoods have major implications for birds. Bird-building collisions account for hundreds of millions of bird deaths a year.
That could change if we generally followed bird-friendly design guidelines. We review some of these ideas in the Handbook of Biophilic City Planning and Design. One remarkable building we profiled is the Studio Gang–designed Aqua Tower in Chicago. With its visually distinct, undulating facade, birds are able to see this building and avoid colliding with it. Cities can of course take many other steps, and many, such as the City of San Francisco, also profiled in the Handbook, have adopted impressive “Standards for Bird-Safe Buildings. These standards actually mandate bird-friendly window and facade treatments. There are lights-out programs in San Francisco, as well as in Chicago, Toronto and other cities. Nonprofits like FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program) in Toronto are working to raise awareness about bird-building fatalities and what we can do about them.
In another city profiled in our book, Wellington, New Zealand, there is a remarkable wild preserve called Zealandia (surrounded by a predator-proof fence), that seeks to allow native species to rebound. With the tagline “bringing birdsong back to Wellington,” Zealandia has already been successful as more residents and neighborhoods are experiencing formerly-decimated native birds like the Kaka (a species of parrot), and this species has really rebounded. For many of us who are advocates of urbanism there is a growing appreciation of the power and life-enhancing nature of birdsong! And perhaps a metric for judging the long term success of city planning and design (what percentage of city’s neighborhoods can one hear native birdsong?).
One of my favorite species of bird, both to hear and to watch, is the Chimney Swift. Their speed and aerobatics are wonderful and gravity-defying. Yet their numbers are in decline, in part because of the found in homes and businesses.
Communities around the country have sought to remedy this by erecting Swift Towers. From Chicago to Raleigh, North Carolina, these towers are popping up to create new nesting spaces and roosting spots. But we need more efforts to ensure that existing chimneys remain as habitat. As the time for southern migration approaches, the swifts begin to congregate in large flocks, and each evening settle to roost in dramatic fashion—a wondrous swirling vortex of birds that somehow makes its way through the opening of a chimney. It can be a moment of collective wonder and solace, as it is in places like Arlington County, Virginia, where residents come together to watch this spectacle, or in Portland, Oregon, where groups enjoy watching Vaux Swifts engage in similar aerobatics. This is a group (bird) therapy that adds immensely to our urban lives.
Timothy Beatley is Chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning and Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities at the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he has taught for over twenty-five years. His books include Blue Urbanism, Biophilic Cities, Resilient Cities, and Green Urbanism.