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Tuesday, December 14, 2004; Page A14

Many Bird Species on the Decline

About 10 percent of all bird species face extinction by the end of the century, and 15 percent more are on the brink, according to researchers. Such extinctions, they say, would have a widespread impact on the environment, agriculture and human society.

"Important ecosystem processes, particularly decomposition, pollination and seed dispersal, will likely decline as a result" of the loss of bird species, said Cagan H. Sekercioglu of the Stanford University Center for Conservation Biology.

The forecast of Sekercioglu and colleagues, published online yesterday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, comes a month after the World Conservation Union reported a continuing loss of species, including an estimate that 12 percent of birds are threatened with extinction.

The Stanford estimate was based on a year of study and a computer calculation of three possible scenarios.

The result was a forecast that between 6 percent and 14 percent of all bird species will be extinct by 2100 and 700 to 2,500 species will be critically endangered or extinct in the wild.

"Given the momentum of climate change, widespread habitat loss and increasing numbers of invasive species, avian declines and extinctions are predicted to continue unabated in the near future," Sekercioglu said.

In U.S., Christmas Is Deadliest Day

Christmas is the deadliest day of the year for Americans, with 12.4 percent more deaths than average, researchers said yesterday.

More Americans die of heart attacks and other natural causes on Christmas, the day after and on New Year's Day than on any other days of the year, the researchers reported.

It is probably because people are feeling too busy or too festive to go to the hospital over the winter holiday season, the researchers wrote in yesterday's issue of the journal Circulation.

The researchers, sociologist David P. Phillips of the University of California at San Diego and colleagues there and at Tufts University in Boston, found a 4.65 percent increase in heart deaths and just shy of a 5 percent increase in non-heart deaths over the 14 days spanning the December holidays.

They did not count deaths from suicide, murder or accidents, and they took into account the perilous effects of a cold snap on health.

Migraines Linked to Stroke Incidence

Migraine sufferers are twice as likely to have a stroke as people who are not afflicted with the debilitating headaches, Canadian and American scientists said yesterday.

A review of 14 studies investigating the link between the headaches and stroke showed patients who have auras, or light effects, with their migraines are even more at risk.

Ali Samii, a neurologist at the University of Washington, said in a report published online by the British Medical Journal that three studies in the review indicated that women who have migraines and who take oral contraceptives were up to eight times as likely to have a stroke as those not on the pill.

Samii and Mahyar Etminan of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and their colleagues believe the raised risk is because of the reduced blood flow to the brain that occurs during a migraine.

The researchers called for more research into the link between migraine and stroke risk.

-- From News Services

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