(Mirror Daily, United States) – They’re a huge part of our world, and yet migratory birds are not well protected against the dangers waiting on their journeys throughout their lives. Among the many animals who require the protection of numerous groups and nations, it seems that long-flyers have a harder time acquiring it. And it’s certainly felt.
Within the last 30 years, over 50% of the population of migratory birds have seen a steep decline. And very few of them are well protected and shielded from straying on the path of extinction. As some experts would say, our planet is heading for its 6th mass extinction, so measures should be taken to avoid such dire consequences to our ecosystem.
Researchers at the University of Queensland analyzed 1,451 species of migratory birds, along with around 450,000 protected areas. This included national parks and reserves that dedicate themselves to the well being of the animal kingdom. These species of birds, however, lack adequate protection to ensure their survival. In fact, a whopping 91% of them are not well guarded in at least one area they cover during their migration pattern.
That means that a mere 9% of these birds species see to sufficient protection throughout their life. This is in comparison to the 45% of the non-migratory bird species, who are easier to take under the protective wing of organizations or official listings such as Endangered Species Act (ESA). This necessary measure especially lacks in China, India, Africa, and South America.
The areas studied covered numerous types that ranged from migratory routes, to stop-over locations, breeding grounds, and wintering stops that often differ for these species. According to Claire Runge, who is a conservation scientist, the grounds have been claimed by urban, industrial, and agricultural expansion. This offers less safe areas for the birds to stop by in their long journey.
Their migration can reach remarkable lengths. For example, bar-tailed godwits travel over 6,000 miles per year, and the arctic terns fly three times the equal of the distance between the Earth and the moon during their lifespan. These are extensive travels that are difficult to assure protection on all their landings. However, scientists are asking for an international collaboration that would better protect the migratory species.
They are a significant part of the ecosystem, by helping resource fluxes and biomass transfer. The migratory birds also transport nutrients, aid pollination, pest control, dispersing seed, and even in predator-prey interactions, which assures a good balance. Their disappearance, decline, or even extinction could have a severely damaging effect on our world.
Image source: mushroomnetworks.com