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Complex, old-growth forests may protect some bird species in a warming climate

Old forests that contain large trees and a diversity of tree sizes and species may offer refuge to some types of birds facing threats in a warming climate, scientists have found. Researchers reported that the more sensitive a bird species is to rising temperatures during the breeding season, the more likely it is to be affected by being near old-growth forest. Additional research will be needed to identify the specific features of mature forests that buffer the effects of warming temperatures on birds. One possibility, the researchers said, is that the large trees themselves function as "heat sinks" during warm periods and thus moderate temperatures. Multiple canopy layers may also provide climate buffering effects. The findings provide an additional reason for old-growth forest conservation as management recommendations from biodiversity and climate studies have traditionally been sparse. Such studies have tended to focus on moving species to cooler climates or simply reducing carbon emissions.

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