New Publication: Impacts of Climate Change on a Songbird Population

Friday, August 17, 2018

Credit NPS

 Led by NE CASC Fellow Tom Bonnot with PI Frank Thompson, this study combines individual-based and metapopulation models to estimate the effects of climate change on annual breeding productivity and population viability up to the year 2100 of a common forest songbird, the Acadian flycatcher (Empidonax virescens), across the Central Hardwoods ecoregion, a 39.5-million-hectare area of temperate and broadleaf forests in the USA. This study is part of NE CASC project "Effects of climate on wildlife demographics and population viability". 

Common songbird population could collapse within this century due to rising temperatures, MU study finds

-From a University of Missouri press release witten by Austin Fitzgerald.

Previous research has shown that higher temperatures fueled by climate change could have major impacts on birds in the U.S. that are already considered threatened. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that the Acadian flycatcher, a common songbird in the U.S., is at risk of severe population decline across the 96-million acre Central Hardwoods Region within the century if the climate continues to warm.

“This is a bird that is common in the Midwest,” said Thomas Bonnot, an assistant research professor in MU’s School of Natural Resources. “The possibility that an abundant species could approach near-extinction from the region within 90 years clearly demonstrates the significant impact of a warming climate on songbird populations.”

Bonnot partnered with his former advisor at MU, Frank Thompson of the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, who has spent more than 20 years researching the Acadian flycatcher. This data, which identified the negative effects of higher temperatures on breeding productivity at an individual level, was incorporated into models that projected both individual bird reproduction and overall population growth under future conditions of climate change. The projections ran through the year 2100 and showed that a warming climate would have severe impacts on breeding success, threatening the flycatcher population.

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Bonnot, T. W., W. Cox A., Thompson, F. R., and Millspaugh J. J. 2018 Threat of climate change on a songbird population through its impacts on breeding, Nature Climate Change 8:718 - 722,  DOI 10.1038/s41558-018-0232-8


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