Six of Seven birds native to Hawaiian island of Kauai are facing the risk of extinction
Hawaiian Islands are known for their natural wonders and rich biodiversity. But this archipelago is projected to lose much of its biodiversity in near future and one of those could be forest birds found in the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
A new research suggests that many species of forest birds native to Hawaii are rapidly dying off and are facing the threat of extinction. And climate change appears to be the driving force behind their population decline.
As climate change heats up, mosquitoes invade bird’s habitats and spread such diseases to which they have not developed a natural defense and are unable to resist against them. The findings have implications on the bird species of other islands as well, which are also facing similar circumstances.
“We document the rapid collapse of the native avifauna on the island of Kaua'i that corresponds to changes in climate and disease prevalence.” Authors wrote in the study.
“Although multiple factors may be pressuring the community, we suggest that a tipping point has been crossed in which temperatures in forest habitats at high elevations have reached a threshold that facilitates the development of avian malaria and its vector throughout these species' ranges.”
The extensive research shows that six of seven native bird species have experienced an up to 94 percent decline over a 15-year period primarily because of the increase in mosquitoes in the birds' habitat in the upper-elevation forests of Kauai's Alakai Plateau triggered by warmer temperatures. Just one of the seven bird species did not show a drop in population.
Researchers believe that most of Hawaiian bird species have already crossed the “tipping point” and now small changes in climate are becoming significant enough to cause larger impact on birds.
"Although multiple factors may be pressuring the community, we suggest that a tipping point has been crossed in which temperatures in forest habitats at high elevations have reached a threshold that facilitates the development of avian malaria and its vector throughout these species' ranges…“If current rates of decline continue, we predict multiple extinctions in the coming decades.” Study concludes.