Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia

Climate change and its impact on Australia’s avifauna

Lynda E. Chambers A , Lesley Hughes B and Michael A. Weston C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, GPO Box 1289K, Melbourne, Vic. 3001, Australia. Email: L.Chambers@bom.gov.au

B Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia. Email: lhughes@rna.bio.mq.edu.au

C Research and Conservation Department, Birds Australia, 415 Riversdale Road, Hawthorn East, Vic. 3123, Australia. Email: m.weston@birdsaustralia.com.au

Emu 105(1) 1-20 https://doi.org/10.1071/MU04033
Submitted: 24 January 2004  Accepted: 11 February 2005   Published: 31 March 2005


Relative to the northern hemisphere, little is known about the effect of climate change on southern hemisphere birds, although the impact could be significant. Here we review the effects of climate change on birds that have been documented or predicted, with particular reference to Australian species. Potential impacts include changes in geographic range, movement patterns, morphology, physiology, abundance, phenology and community composition. The evidence suggests that these changes are already happening, both overseas and in Australia, but more research is needed to determine the extent of these impacts and how to conserve birds in the face of climate change. Management options include promoting adaptation and resilience, intensive management of sensitive species, and improved planning for mitigation techniques and monitoring.


We would like to acknowledge the assistance given by the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology library staff, particularly Laurie Long, and by John Peter of Birds Australia. We would also like to thank Drs Rob Colman and Scott Power of BMRC and Linda Beaumont of Macquarie University for constructive reviews of this paper and the insightful comments from two anonymous reviewers.


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