Forest clearcutting threatens Maritime bird species: study


A new study has found that bird species in forested areas of Canada’s Marine Provinces are threatened by habitat loss due to changes in forest composition caused by deforestation.

The findings were outlined in a paper published on Thursday Journal of Nature Ecology & Evolution. University of Oregon researchers examined data on 54 of the most common bird species in the Acadian Forests of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island between 1985 and 2020.

Overall, the researchers estimate that during the 35-year period, 33 to 104 million birds died due to forest degradation, which refers to the loss of forest biodiversity and health.

Since 1985, more than three million hectares in the Acadian Forest have been cleared, while older forests have declined 39 percent.

“Due to increased global demand for wood, more and more of the earth’s surface is being used for logging,” said author Matt Betts in a press release released Friday.

When forests are cut down, they are usually replanted with a single species of tree, resulting in a much less ecologically diverse environment.

“Our work represents a new way to quantify these types of changes,” Betts said.

These practices have been found to have serious impacts on bird habitats. The researchers found that 66 percent of these species had experienced habitat loss in the breeding ranges, and this was strongly associated with a loss of older forests.

The golden-crowned kinglet was the bird species that experienced the greatest loss, having experienced a 38 percent habitat loss during the study period. It was followed by the Blackburn’s Warbler, which had lost 33 percent of its habitat. There were seven species whose habitat decreased by more than 25 percent.

Nine bird species also saw population declines of more than 30 percent over a 10-year period, which would qualify those species to be classified as “Vulnerable,” according to Canada’s Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife.

“Overall, our results indicate a broad-based decline in Acadian Forest woodland birds, and for most species, abundance is strongly related to habitat size,” Betts said.

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