f scientists know how particular species are responding to the realities of global climate change, they can help to recommend better conservation strategies.
But information about climate change response and adaptation is either limited or not available for many tropical bird species. This is a glaring oversight: particularly for range restricted tropical birds – that is, species with narrow ranges that occur only in a particular place or habitat. Scientists have shown that range restricted tropical birds are extremely vulnerable to global climate change, owing to their specialised habitat requirements. These species include a number of West African birds which occupy the region’s tropical forests.
Like most regions on the continent, future climate change projections for West Africa suggest there’s a high chance of temperature increases. But they’re more equivocal with rainfall: diﬀerent projections indicate signiﬁcant increases or decreases in future rainfall, with little consensus among models.
My colleagues and I wanted to address the gap in knowledge about what’s needed to protect West African species from the effects of changes in climate.
We looked at three range restricted endemic West African bird species: the Timneh Parrot (Pscittacus erithracus timneh), Ballman’s Malimbe (Malimbus ballmanni), and White-necked Rockfowl (Picathartes gymnocephalus). These birds are only found in West Africa and have restricted habitat requirements, making them highly susceptible to climate change.