Pdf available of full report:
This research identifies Australian water birds likely to face strong
challenges or extinction from climate change and recommends key actions
to secure and manage vulnerable regions for the future.
In the first continental analysis of the effects of climate change on
a faunal group, we identified that the climate space of 101 Australian
terrestrial and inland water bird taxa is likely to be entirely gone by
2085, 16 marine taxa have breeding sites that are predicted to be at
least 10% less productive than today, and 55 terrestrial taxa are likely
to be exposed to more frequent or intense fires.
Birds confined to Cape York Peninsula, the Wet Tropics, the Top End
of the Northern Territory (particularly the Tiwi Islands), the arid
zone, King Island and southern South Australia (particularly Kangaroo
Island) are most likely to lose climate space. There was some variation
in the predictions of the 18 climate models deployed, but all predicted
that the rainforest avifauna of Cape York Peninsula is likely to face
the strongest challenge from climate change, particularly taxa currently
confined to the Iron and McIlwraith Ranges. For marine birds, those
nesting on Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, the Great Barrier Reef and the
Houtman Abrolhos are likely to face the greatest declines in local
marine productivity. Changes in local marine productivity may also
affect the endemic terrestrial birds of these islands, for which no
climate modelling was possible. A small group of beach-nesting and
saltmarsh birds may be affected by sea level rise.
Many taxa, and particularly seabirds, are potentially highly
sensitive to climate change based on a set of ecological and
morphological metrics. Small island taxa were most likely to be both
exposed and sensitive to climate change, followed by marine and
shoreline taxa. While threatened birds were more likely than
non-threatened taxa to be exposed or sensitive to climate change, or
both, a substantial proportion was neither.
A key action that needs to be undertaken immediately is fine scale
modelling of regions identified as having numerous highly exposed bird
taxa, in order to identify climatic refugia within the landscape. Such
refugia can then be secured and managed appropriately for the future.
The most urgent ongoing action is monitoring, with support for the Atlas
of Australian Birds seen as a particularly cost-effective investment.
In the future, the most expensive actions will be management of refugia,
and captive breeding should all other approaches to conservation in the
wild fail. However, most of those for which captive breeding is
recommended as a last resort are subspecies of species that are
widespread, either in Australia or in New Guinea.
For in situ management, the most important actions will be those that
are already important – fire management, weed and feral animal control
and, for marine taxa, controls on fishing. A small number of
species-specific actions are suggested, and there appears to be no
urgent requirement for corridors for the maintenance of taxa likely to
be threatened with extinction – those few taxa not already living in
areas where there are likely to be refugia will require assistance to
colonise new climate space.
The cost of management over the next 50 years for persistence in the
face of climate change of the 396 bird taxa that are very highly
exposed, sensitive or both is estimated at $18.8 million per year –
$47,700 per year for each taxon. The biggest ongoing costs are
monitoring and direct species management but refugia management and
captive breeding may eventually be needed, and will be much more
Please cite this report as:
Garnett, S, Franklin,
D, Ehmke, G, VanDerWal, J, Hodgson, L, Pavey, C, Reside, A, Welbergen,
J, Butchart, S, Perkins, G, Williams, S 2013 Climate change adaptation
strategies for Australian birds, National Climate Change Adaptation Research
Facility, Gold Coast. pp.109.
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