Populations of native birds on the Hawaiian island of Kauai have declined drastically in the face of climate change.

Credit: Jim Denny

Eben Paxton, of the US Geological Survey's Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center in Hawaii, and his colleagues analysed data on seven native species of forest bird on Kauai. Between 2000 and 2012, populations of six of these (including Drepanis coccinea; pictured) shrank by an average of 68% in their core range in the island's interior, and by an average of 94% in the surrounding areas. Two of these species could be detected only in the interior region in 2012 surveys.

The main driving force behind these declines is probably increased temperatures that have allowed the spread of avian malaria, the authors say. They add that native birds are likely to go extinct in the next few decades at the current rates of decline.

Sci. Adv. 2, e1600029 (2016)