State of the World’s Birds Report
- May 11, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
State of the World’s Birds Report
Context: The State of the World’s Birds, an annual review of environmental resources led by the Manchester Metropolitan University gives an overview of the changes in the knowledge of avian biodiversity and the extent to which it is imperilled.
Key Findings of the Study:
- The report revealed that the population of 48% of the 10,994 surviving species of birds is declining
- While 4,295 or 39% of the species have stable trends, about 7% or 778 species have increasing population trends. The trend of 37 species is unknown.
- The study draws from BirdLife International’s latest assessment of all birds for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List that shows 1,481 or 5% species are currently threatened with global extinction.
- The bird species are non-randomly threatened across the avian tree of life, with richness of threatened species disproportionately high among families such as parrots, pheasants and allies, albatrosses and allies, rails, cranes, cracids, grebes, megapodes, and pigeons.
- The more threatened bird species(86.4%) are found in tropical than in temperate latitudes (31.7%), with hotspots for threatened species concentrated in the tropical Andes, southeast Brazil, eastern Himalayas, eastern Madagascar, and South East Asian Islands.
Significance of Birds:
- Birds are global taxon with one or more species occupying all habitats across the Earth’s terrestrial surface including urban environments.
- They contribute toward many ecosystem services that either directly or indirectly benefit humanity. These include provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services.
- The functional role of birds within ecosystems as pollinators, seed-dispersers, ecosystem engineers, scavengers and predators not only facilitate accrual and maintenance of biodiversity but also support human endeavours such as sustainable agriculture via pest control besides aiding other animals to multiply.
- For instance, coral reef fish productivity has been shown to increase as seabird colonies recovered following rat eradication in the Chagos archipelago.
- Wild birds and products derived from them are also economically importantas food (meat, eggs). Approximately 45% of all extant bird species are used in some way by people, primarily as pets (37%) and for food (14%).
- The cultural role of birds is perhaps more important than any other taxonomic group, the study says. Beyond symbolic and artistic values, bird watching is a global pastime practised by millions of people. Garden bird-feeding is valued at $5-6 billion per year and growing by 4% annually.
Threats to Avian Biodiversity:
- land cover and land-use change, continued growth of human populations and of per capita rates of consumption, habitat fragmentation and degradation, especially in the tropics; hunting and trapping illegally in the Mediterranean region, invasive alien species and disease, infrastructure, energy demands and pollution; agrochemical and pharmaceutical usage, global trade teleconnections and climate change.
Can the avian loss be stemmed?
Yes, if biodiversity loss is addressed and efforts are done to achieve more effective and sustainable conservation outcomes, linking birds to human well-being, sustainability, climate resilience, and environmental justice.