Fitting the Climate Lens to Grassland Bird Conservation: Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability Using Demographically-Informed Species Distribution Models

Fiscal Year: 
Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
Christine Ribic, USGS Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit; Cooperator(s) & Partner(s): Curtice Griffin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Scott Hull, Andy Paulios, David Sample, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; David King, US Forest Service-Amherst; Katie Koch, Melinda Knutson, Chris Trosen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; David Lorenz, Volker Radeloff, UW-Madison; Rosalind Renfrew, Vermont Center of Ecostudies; David Rugg, US Forest Service-Madison; Susan Skagen, USGS-Fort Collins
Science Themes: 

To develop the framework to identify demographic sensitivities and assess the vulnerability of grassland bird species to future climate change. Objectives are to (1) Develop a strong partnership among managers and researchers to understand how climate change could be accounted for in conservation and management planning for grassland birds throughout the NE CASC region. (2) Develop spatially-explicit and temporally dynamic species distribution models for a select group of grassland birds. (3) Evaluate current “on-the-ground” prairie and grassland management practices and the placement of existing and proposed conservation areas relative to future climate change.

--> View meeting summary for "Grassland Bird Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Collaborator Meeting"

By incorporating information on future climate change, we have identified regions where Henslow's Sparrows, a species of increasing conservation concern, are likely to face unsuitable conditions for reproduction. In addition, we have identified areas that will serve as likely refugia for this species in the future. We have performed the first-ever exploration of the synergistic effects of weather and grassland patch size, the most common currency of grassland bird conservation and management. We have found that large grasslands serve as an important buffer of extreme temperature and precipitation on grassland bird nesting success, which provided an additional rationale for focusing effort on increasing grassland patch size for grassland bird conservation.

  • Zuckerberg et al. Assessing the vulnerability of wildlife to climate change. 78th Annual Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Milwaukee, WI, 30 December 2018

  • Zuckerberg, B. Application of climate response models to bird conservation in the Americas. North American Ornithological Conference. August 2016

  • Zuckerberg, B. C. Ribic, and L. McCauley. 2015. Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability of Grassland Birds Using Demographically Informed Species Distribution Models. Central Hardwoods Joint Venture technical committee. March 2016