The bird populations in California and Nevada’s Mojave Desert are decreasing, and scientists believe that climate change is to blame. A team of researchers from UC Berkeley conducted a survey in 61 locations across the desert region, including areas in Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley.
Over the course of three years, the team scrutinized various locations and their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists kept an eye on the same areas that were previously examined by Berkeley biologists between the early 1900s and 1947. This aided them in observing significant alterations in the assortment of bird species in that region.
In the last hundred years, experts have observed significant declines in the variety of bird species. This is because the number of different species has decreased by 43%.
New studies indicate that certain ecosystems undergo a trend of winners and losers when species decrease, resulting in an increase in the population of other species.
The research conducted by Berkeley scientists discovered that while the Carrizo Plain National Monument in California is flourishing with various species, the Mojave Desert has much fewer winners in terms of bird populations. Steven Beissinger, one of the study’s authors, stated that almost half of the bird population has disappeared from the Mojave Desert.
The main reason for the decline in populations and biodiversity in the Mojave Desert is due to changes in climate. According to researchers, the reduction of rainfall, increase in aridity, and rise in temperature are the major factors contributing to this. Due to the effects of climate change, the region has become unsuitable for many bird species, leading to a significant decline in their population.
According to Kelly Iknayan, a co-author of the study, the California deserts have already undergone significant drying and warming due to climate change, which could be enough to push birds to extinction. This suggests that we are losing a crucial part of the desert ecosystem.