Education

To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society. -Theodore Roosevelt

B&C Fellow - Marta Jarzyna

GLOBAL TEMPERATURE INCREASE RESULTING FROM CLIMATE CHANGE HAS A POTENTIAL TO AFFECT NATURAL ECOSYSTEMS IN PROFOUND WAYS. BIRD COMMUNITIES ARE A GOOD INDICATOR OF THE IMPACTS

Global temperature increase resulting from climate change has a potential to affect natural ecosystems in profound ways. Bird communities are a good indicator of the impacts. One of the many indicators will be a reorganization of the composition and structure of songbird communities. Reshuffling of natural communities will present a major challenge for biodiversity conservation and existing conservation strategies will need to be reevaluated and redesigned to manage novel community assemblages. Changes in community composition and dynamics resulting from large-scale environmental disturbance have rarely been investigated and a formal analysis is still lacking. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate changes in community structure in the context of climate change so that wildlife managers and conservationists can successfully incorporate global change into the long-term planning and management.

For my dissertation, I'm using the breeding bird fauna of New York State to investigate changes in community composition over a period of two decades. The breeding bird data from New York will also act as a model assemblage to investigate a relationship between a potential shift in community composition and climate change. Specific objectives include (1) evaluating changes in community composition and structure by quantifying community turnover rates and community thermal index, (2) determining whether these changes follow the pace of shifting climate, and (3) evaluating if the community responses to climate warming are confounded by habitat disturbance. 

Preliminary results of our research indicate that changes in avian community diversity are significantly correlated with the trends in climatic conditions. Regions with increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation have experienced the highest levels of community turnover. We are finding that these responses differ depending on the level of habitat disturbance. This may indicate that the impacts of climate change are confounded in moderately and highly developed landscapes. Our findings may suggest that management for biodiversity will be more challenging in highly fragmented landscapes dominated by human development.


 

Marta Jarzyna
Michigan State University

 

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt