Oct 29, 2018

Climate change causes upslope shifts and mountaintop extirpations in a tropical bird community

Benjamin G. Freeman, Micah N. Scholer, Viviana Ruiz-Gutierrez, John W. Fitzpatrick
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • States that global warming is predicted to constitute an “escalator to extinction” for species that live on mountains because species are generally moving to higher elevations as temperatures warm, and species that live only near mountaintops may run out of room.
  • Shows that:
    • Recent warming does indeed act as an escalator to extinction for birds that live on a remote Peruvian mountain.
    • High-elevation species have shrunk in range size and declined in abundance, and several previously common species have disappeared.
    • In contrast, lowland bird species are expanding in range size as they shift their upper limits upslope and may thus benefit from climate change.
  • Suggests that high-elevation species in the tropics are particularly vulnerable to climate change.