Scientists long puzzled by the rapid decline in millions of Canadian boreal ducks since the 1970s think they may finally have the cause: global warming….
Slattery and a team of scientists from the University of British Columbia, the University of Saskatchewan and Environment Canada have long been trying to solve a mystery in Canada’s boreal forests: why have two duck species, the scaup and scoter, dropped so dramatically in numbers — by 40 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively — in just three decades?
The scaup population, for instance, plunged from six million to 3½ million.
Spring starting earlier
The team suspected the ducks’ boreal wetland habitats were changing, so they examined snow cover data. That was when they made a startling discovery.
"We found that over a 35-year period, that spring comes on average about 11 days earlier," Slattery said.
Slattery said that is a massive change. Low snow cover is directly linked with the drop in the ducks’ survival….
Migratory birds fly south in the fall and return just in time in the spring to feed on an abundance of insects. The duck mothers especially need this food while nesting in June.
But now that the spring is arriving nearly two weeks sooner, the ducks fly in too late for the feast.
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