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Harpy Eagles Face Declining Habitat Range Due to Climate Change, Urgent Conservation Measures Needed

Harpy Eagles Face Declining Habitat Range Due to Climate Change, Urgent Conservation Measures Needed

A recent study examining the potential impacts of climate change on the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), an iconic predator of the lowland tropical forests, has revealed concerning findings. The research, which employed species distribution modelling, predicts a significant decline in the species' range size due to habitat loss under different climate change scenarios.

June 27, 2023

The Harpy Eagle, known for its majestic appearance and vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of its habitat, faces challenges posed by climate change. The species' narrow thermal tolerances make it vulnerable to changing environmental conditions, hindering its ability to expand into new areas. This vulnerability is especially pronounced among habitat specialists like the Harpy Eagle.

The study's findings indicate that under a high-emissions scenario, the Harpy Eagle's range size is projected to decrease by 14.4% by 2090. Even under a low-emissions scenario, a reduction of 7.3% is expected. The primary drivers of this decline include habitat loss resulting from deforestation, changes in temperature patterns, and alterations in elevation.

The research also sheds light on the importance of protected areas for the Harpy Eagle's long-term survival. Currently, the Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) network covers 18% of the species' habitat. However, simulations indicate that by 2090, under a high-emissions scenario, the IBA network would cover 14% less area, while under a low-emissions scenario, it would cover 3.3% less area. This calls for a re-evaluation of protected areas to ensure their effectiveness in safeguarding not only the Harpy Eagle but also numerous other species relying on similar habitats.

Conservation efforts are urgently needed to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on the Harpy Eagle's range and preserve its crucial role within the ecosystem. Researchers and environmental organizations stress the importance of implementing adaptive conservation strategies that account for projected changes in habitat suitability. Such measures should include habitat restoration, targeted protection of key areas, and collaborative efforts between stakeholders to combat deforestation and promote sustainable land-use practices.




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