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How songbirds respond to changing weather

Cara J

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Weather data sets and bird surveys from past years in the Badlands and prairie regions of the United States can give researchers clues about the future of songbird species. In a recent study published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, lead author Jessica Gorzo, a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her team compared weather and climate data from 1965 to 2010 in the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming with songbird abundance data collected from the North American Breeding Bird Survey during the same years. The team looked at 14 grassland songbird species including species of sparrows, sandpipers and others that they knew from previous research in 1988 had suffered as a result of drought in the Midwest. They found that some songbird species are particularly vulnerable to weather patterns caused by climate change such as precipitation increases or decreases. For instance, both the grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) and the Baird’s sparrow (Ammodramus bairdii) — which prefer precipitation in lush, dense grasslands — faced the steepest declines as a result of weather changes. This could spell trouble for weather-sensitive species found in regions that are projected to have hotter and drier weather conditions as a result of climate change, she said. In [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/how-songbirds-respond-to-changing-weather/

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