Migrating birds consume and distribute an abundance of seeds and invertebrates, are a cultural resource for waterfowl watchers and hunters, and provide economic benefit through the activities of waterfowl enthusiasts. Researchers at the NE CSC developed weather severity indices (WSIs) to estimate autumn-winter distributions of migratory birds based on contemporary weather conditions to describe historic changes to weather known to influence their migration, and forecast their future spatial distributions based on dynamically downscaled climate change scenarios. WSI models indicate that shifts in the timing of waterfowl migration could have substantial ecological, cultural, and economic consequences, and may necessitate changes to North American-wide conservation efforts for waterfowl during the non-breeding period. The researchers also looked into the potential impacts of changing weather severity on waterfowl migration with the goal achieving actionable science to guide the decisions of resource managers. They projected changes in the relative abundance and timing of autumn-winter migration for seven dabbling duck species across the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways for the mid- and late 21st century. Projected changes in air temperature, snowpack, and lake ice cover may lead to delayed autumn-winter migration for the species evaluated. Implications of these changes in migratory behavior on food resources, wetland restoration, hunting, and birdwatching were explored. To learn more, register above to join the webinar.
Research support from: Northeast Climate Science Center
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