Developing a Coordinated, Multi-Region Effort to Understand the Effects of Climate Change on Migratory Birds

United States and Canada
Jan 2015 to Jan 2017

Birds are appreciated and enjoyed by thousands of people and also play important roles in the ecosystem as predators, prey, and pollinators. Alaska provides important breeding ground for hundreds of migratory bird species that travel thousands of miles in their annual migrations between breeding and wintering spots.

Understanding how climate and land use changes affect migratory bird populations is crucial; however this information is also very difficult to collect. Migration routes expose birds to a wide range of landscapes and habitats, which are often experiencing varying degrees of climate and land use change (e.g. warmer temperatures or increased housing developments). Moreover, climate change in the future may cause bird populations to shift their migration patterns, adding even more complexity. Visible impacts to bird populations are the cumulative result of many factors, giving researchers a major challenge when trying to pinpoint the most important threats.

As an important step towards unraveling these different threats to migratory birds, this project will define a large-scale multi-region strategy to help prioritize and guide future research. The researchers will use literature reviews, surveys, and coordination with other researchers and managers to identify the major gaps in our understanding. This project will increase the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of research funding in the future, which in turn will provide resource managers with the information they need to protect migratory birds throughout the U.S.