Grassland birds are declining faster than any other bird guild across North America as temperate grasslands have been disproportionally affected by climate change relative to most other terrestrial biomes. To evaluate the efficacy of bird conservation in a changing climate, it is critical to understand the effects of weather on bird demography across a range of habitats and regions. This study modeled the effects of temperature and precipitation on nesting success rates of 12 grassland bird species inhabiting a range of grassland patches across North America. This publication is part of our larger project Fitting the Climate Lens to Grassland Bird Conservation: Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability Using Demographically-Informed Species Distribution Models led by NE CASC affiliated investigator Ben Zuckerberg. Watch associated Webinar.
Take Home Points
- Higher amounts of precipitation in the preceding year were associated with higher nesting success, but wetter conditions during the active breeding season reduced nesting success. • Extremely cold or hot conditions during the early breeding season were associated with lower rates of nesting success.
- The direct and indirect influence of temperature and precipitation on nesting success was moderated by grassland patch size.
- Overall large grassland patches, the most common metric of grassland conservation, appears to moderate the effects of weather on grassland-bird demography and could be an effective component of climate-change adaptation.
Read the Article
Zuckerberg, B., Ribic, C., McCauley, L. 2018 Effects of temperature and precipitation on grassland bird nesting success as mediated by patch size Conservation Biology, 32(4): 872–882 DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13089
Written by Communications Intern Mike Crowley