Report

Decline of the North American avifauna

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  04 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6461, pp. 120-124
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw1313

eLetters is an online forum for ongoing peer review. Submission of eLetters are open to all. eLetters are not edited, proofread, or indexed.  Please read our Terms of Service before submitting your own eLetter.

Compose eLetter

Plain text

  • Plain text
    No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Author Information
First or given name, e.g. 'Peter'.
Your last, or family, name, e.g. 'MacMoody'.
Your email address, e.g. higgs-boson@gmail.com
Your role and/or occupation, e.g. 'Orthopedic Surgeon'.
Your organization or institution (if applicable), e.g. 'Royal Free Hospital'.
Statement of Competing Interests
CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Vertical Tabs

  • RE: Decline of the North American avifauna
    • Theresa Jörger-Hickfang, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
    • Other Contributors:
      • Max Hofmann, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
      • Inês Martins, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
      • Anne Mimet, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
      • Brian McGill, School of Biology and Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA
      • Henrique Miguel Pereira, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany

    Rosenberg et al. (1) report a net loss of 30% in the abundance of North American breeding birds between 1970 and 2017 and the reported declines spanned 9 of 10 breeding biomes. Substantial declines in bird abundances had already been described for Europe and North America (2–4). Like Rosenberg et al, Schipper et al. (4) analyzed the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), found a decrease in overall bird abundance and identified grassland species as the group experiencing the most severe declines. But Schipper et al. report that some habitat and species abundance groups exhibited population increases and, that surprisingly, several overall biodiversity metrics had increases (e.g. local species richness and diversity). This paints a more complex picture of bird population trends with heterogenous trends across species.
    Rosenberg et al. (1) integrated species population trajectories and species population size estimates into a single hierarchical Bayesian model to produce full time-series of population sizes for all bird species. To reduce the effect of imprecise species-level estimates on the overall evaluation of population change, the model included a hierarchical structure that grouped species by breeding and overwintering biomes. By structuring the model like this, population trajectories of species in the same group (i.e. same breeding and overwintering biome) were shrunk towards the mean trajectory of the group. Hence, as Rosenberg et al. (1) recognize, their...

    Show More
    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Causes of bird population reduction

    The usual ideas of pesticides and such are addressed, but how much work is being done on the effects of the ever-denser electromagnetic environment? Data streaming of cell phones and other devices, with multiple towers, may have a detrimental long-term effect on birds, even if it only shows up over years. More studies should be done, particularly when the new 5G systems are coming out.

    Competing Interests: None declared.

Stay Connected to Science