HONOLULU (AP) - Researchers say climate change could place indigenous Hawaiian bird populations in even more danger over the next century.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison say rising temperatures and increased rainfall could draw mosquitoes that carry malaria into the birds' protected habitats.
Avian malaria is historically linked to bird extinctions, so the team set out to explore how climate change could impact bird-mosquito interaction.
A single mosquito bite can transfer malaria parasites to a bird, which researchers say can result in a death rate as high as 90 percent. That's why many threatened native bird species only survive in high-elevation forests, where colder temperatures serve as a natural barrier to mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes, however, may survive at higher elevations as temperatures increase.