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Tuesday, February 7 • 11:00am - 11:20am
Symposia Session - S5: Playa Wetland Ecology. Modeling Nonbreeding Distributions of Wetland Birds in Response to Climate Change

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AUTHORS: Gordon C. Reese, Susan K. Skagen - U.S. Geological Survey

ABSTRACT: To assess species vulnerability to climate change and identify areas that may contribute to a robust conservation network, we developed species distribution models of several en route migratory shorebirds and wintering waterfowl across the southern Great Plains of North America. We used Random Forests and data from eBird, a citizen-science program, to model bird distributions relative to latitude, calendar date, land-use, wetland area, terrain ruggedness, and time-matched weather data. We compared probabilities of occurrence in ‘model space’ by projecting models to five representative models from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) for the time periods 1981-2010 (hindcast) and 2041-2070 (forecast). At the regional extent, differences in ensemble (averages across climate models) probabilities of shorebird occurrence ranged from -0.015 to 0.045 among species, and relatively large increases in the probability of occurrence were predicted early in spring migration. Additionally, the models predicted spatial shifts for several shorebird species. Species using the western and northern portion of the study area exhibited the greatest likelihood of declines, whereas species with a more easterly distribution had the greatest predicted increase in probability of occurrence. Averaged across the entire region, the probability of occurrence of wintering mallards and northern pintail are expected to increase by 0.046 and 0.061, respectively, with northward shifts apparent for both species. We illustrate a conservation application of our methods by evaluating the predicted changes within individual protected areas. When incorporated into partner land-management decision tools, results at regional and local extents can be used to identify wetland complexes with the greatest potential to support wetland birds in the nonbreeding season under a wide range of possible climate scenarios.

Tuesday February 7, 2017 11:00am - 11:20am CST
Yankee Hill I/II