The impact of Climate Change on Fynbos Endemic Birds

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The impact of Climate Change on Fynbos Endemic Birds

Rockjumper is supporting Dr Alan Lee on his 3 month bicycle survey. Most Fynbos endemic birds are reported considerably less now compared to previous atlas periods. Surprisingly, we know very little about 4 of the 6 species found only in the Fynbos. This survey is a first step to addressing the shortcomings in our knowledge of some of the birds that make our country so very special. From February to April 2012, Alan Lee will cycle through the Fynbos to study how well our Fynbos endemic birds will adapt to a drier climate.

Over 3 months, he will survey Fynbos bird communities in relation to various environmental variables. Sleeping in a tent in the wild or in guesthouses along the road, he will travel over 2300km all around the Fynbos Biome by foot and bike to complete this intensive survey. Using the technique of Distance Sampling, Alan will travel along planned survey lines and stop every 500m. Then, using a solar panel computer, GPS, binoculars and rangefinder, he will record birds and collect specific information at each point: altitude, vegetation type, topographical situation, plant groups, wind and temperature…. He will play standardized recordings of target birds and record any responses.

Using this information, Alan will be able to evaluate the number of birds of each species. This will create a large up-to-date database: this will reveal precious and fundamental information about the ecology of 6 endemic species in 12 bioregions. Most climate change models predict a drier environment for the Western Cape in the not too distant future. This could have severe repercussions for the endemic bird species that live there. In order to protect them in a drier future, Conservationists need to know their habits, life histories, population size and trends. However, they face a major problem: the lack of data concerning birds present in Fynbos environment and especially the 6 endemics species.

Without these data, the threatened status of these species as determined by the IUCN is unknown and consequently, the birds can’t be protected as necessary. So, in few words, this project aims to learn more in order to protect more! Fynbos is a fantastically rich environment not only for birds but also for plants and mammals. However, it needs to be protected. Follow the survey progress on