Date: April 16, 2019
Source: Oxford University Press USA
A new study in The Condor: Ornithological Applications finds that some sparrow species will go extinct within the century due to climate change.
Seaside (Ammospiza maritima) and saltmarsh (A. caudacuta) sparrows are closely related species and among only five bird species that are almost completely restricted to coastal salt marshes for their entire life. These sparrows' nests are predominantly destroyed by predators or flooding.
Salt marshes are globally limited to about 30,000 square miles (45,000 square km), with one-third of the total on North American coasts. Of the 25 species or subspecies limited to tidal wetlands worldwide, 15 are restricted to the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Given rapid climate changes and other threats to salt marsh ecosystems, many of these species are in serious danger.
The global breeding range of the saltmarsh sparrow extends from Virginia to Maine, with a population estimate of 60,000 birds. Sea-level rise can negatively impact breeding seaside and saltmarsh sparrows by reducing the amount of available habitat, and by increasing nest flooding rates. Furthermore, the high human population densities of Mid-Atlantic states also make it difficult for sparrows to thrive in the region.