This post is the latest in the series Uncover Diverse Colombia by Colombia Photo Expeditions, in which Kike Calvo profiles interesting information, research and thoughts on Colombia for journalism, ecotourism, science, exploration and photography.

“The upper altitude ecosystems of the Andes are among the most threatened by climate change. Computer models suggest that a large percentage of species in these ecosystems will be at risk of extinction and that avian communities will suffer disruption and impoverishment,” explained a group of scientists in a new article(1) recently published on the Journal of Field Ornithology.

As their abstract describes studies in other Andean countries lend some support to these predictions, but there are no quantitative data from Colombia appropriate to test these models. In 1991–1992. They we conducted a bird survey in a high Andean cloud forest to gather information about the species present and their abundance, attempting  to replicate this earlier study 24 yr later to detect any changes in the avifauna and determine possible causes for those changes.

The team supplemented their observational data by also capturing birds in mist-nets. Community species richness and composition as well as the overall abundance of birds changed little from 1991–1992 to 2015–2016, but nearly 30% of bird species changed in abundance. Changes in the presence or abundance of nine or 10 species reflected upward shifts in elevational limits potentially due to climate change.

The authors recommended the establishment of a monitoring program in Colombia because data obtained from such a program might be important in designing measures to mitigate the effects of climate change and conserve biodiversity.

(1) Rosselli, L., Stiles, F. G. and Camargo, P. A. (2017), Changes in the avifauna in a high Andean cloud forest in Colombia over a 24-year period. J. Field Ornithol.. doi:10.1111/jofo.12204

Photo Tanager Finch © Juan Jose Arango / VWPics

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Learn more:

Birdwatching in Colombia
A Guide to the Birds of Colombia

Moon Colombia (Travel Guide)
47 Amazing Things to See and Do in Colombia
Lonely Planet Colombia (Travel Guide)
Colombia (National Geographic Adventure Map)
National Geographic Traveler: Colombia, 2nd Edition


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