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Marta Jarzyna
Michigan State University

I have been fascinated with the natural world surrounding me for most of my life. My interests were varied and many, from biology and ecology to geography and paleobiology to mathematics and engineering. My academic career has reflected this wide array of interests, as I have pursued degrees and coursework spanning a variety of fields. As I grew in knowledge and experience, I found a way to marry these many varied interests by focusing my career on macroecology and climate change.

As an undergraduate student at Warsaw University of Life Sciences and the University of Wales, I was exposed to a variety of environmental topics including land and water conservation, environmental monitoring, landscape ecology, and landscape protection. However, I was inspired by courses which demonstrated how geographical analysis of ecological components could be used in conjunction with environmental conservation principles. These courses led me to the Master’s in GIS program at Pennsylvania State University where I developed quantitative skills essential in macroecological studies.

My long-term career objectives are to conduct research in the field of macroecology and global change ecology. I want to focus my career path on factors that drive species diversity at multiple spatial and temporal scales. I am interested in the application of macroecological principles to problems concerning wildlife conservation. I am pursuing a dual Doctoral degree in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife as well as the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior program at Michigan State University. My doctoral research aims at establishing dynamic linkages between climate and landscape changes, and recently observed shifts in songbird diversity. I believe my research provides an avenue for scholarly work that takes a comprehensive perspective in relation to areas such as ecology, landscape ecology, biogeography, and wildlife conservation.

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.

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