This article discusses how climate change is threatening Great Basin waterbirds, a ‘canary in the mine’ for healthy lakes, wetlands.
Since the early 1900s, diversions for cities, farms and ranches have changed the amount of water that makes it into these lakes, which form part of the Pacific Flyway, a Western migration path for waterbirds. Now researchers report that they are facing a new threat: climate change.
As warming temperatures change precipitation dynamics and snowmelt patterns, even less water is expected to flow into Great Basin wetlands and lakes, which could imperil several bird species. A study released this month in Scientific Reports showed that the footprint of climate change was already visible in the Great Basin. It concluded that in five of eight species with declining populations, an increase in temperature was contributing to a decline in waterbirds.