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

Project Summary

Affiliation(s): Northeast CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Benjamin Zuckerberg (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Prairie ecosystems and many grassland birds are particularly vulnerable to rapid shifts in climate variability and associated changes in drought and extreme weather events. For grassland birds, climate change is likely to exacerbate environmental threats such as habitat loss due to shifting agricultural practices and housing sprawl. The project goal is to develop a decision support framework for identifying which demographic characteristics make certain grassland bird species particularly sensitive to climate variability and which regions have the highest level of exposure to future climate change. Project objectives are to 1) convene a core group of scientists and managers involved in grassland bird conservation to build a demographic database for a select group of grassland birds, 2) use downscaled climate projections and land-use change models to develop demographically informed species distribution models in order to estimate species-specific sensitivities and exposures to future climate change, and 3) build management scenarios directly into the modeling approach to assist managers in evaluating the efficacy of current grassland bird management and conservation planning in the future. Using this approach, project researchers will produce spatially-explicit projections of population dynamics to identify regions that might become more or less suitable for grassland birds in the future. Ultimately, the researchers will provide a vulnerability assessment framework for evaluating the management of grassland bird populations at multiple spatiotemporal scales. 

Affiliation(s): Northeast CSC

Principal Investigator(s):
  • Benjamin Zuckerberg (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Christine A Ribic (Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit)
  • Curtice Griffin (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
  • Scott Hull (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
  • Andy Paulios (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
  • David Sample (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)
  • David King (US Forest Service-Amherst)
  • Katie Koch (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
  • Melinda Knutson (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
  • Chris Trosen (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
  • David Lorenz (UW-Madison)
  • Volker Radeloff (UW-Madison)
  • Rosalind Renfrew (Vermont Center of Ecostudies)
  • David Rugg (US Forest Service-Madison)
  • Susan K Skagen (Fort Collins Science Center)

Start Date: August 2013

End Date: July 2018

Project Status: In Progress

Tags: CSC, Northeast CSC, 2013, Grassland Birds, Vulnerability Assessment, Species Distribution

Fiscal Year: FY 2013 Projects