Bird response to future climate and forest management focused on mitigating climate change

Abstract

Context

Global temperatures are projected to increase and affect forests and wildlife populations. Forest management can potentially mitigate climate-induced changes through promoting carbon sequestration, forest resilience, and facilitated change.

Objectives

We modeled direct and indirect effects of climate change on avian abundance through changes in forest landscapes and assessed impacts on bird abundances of forest management strategies designed to mitigate climate change effects.

Methods

We coupled a Bayesian hierarchical model with a spatially explicit landscape simulation model (LANDIS PRO) to predict avian relative abundance. We considered multiple climate scenarios and forest management scenarios focused on carbon sequestration, forest resilience, and facilitated change over 100 years.

Results

Management had a greater impact on avian abundance (almost 50% change under some scenarios) than climate (<3% change) and only early successional and coniferous forest showed significant change in percent cover across time. The northern bobwhite was the only species that changed in abundance due to climate-induced changes in vegetation. Northern bobwhite, prairie warbler, and blue-winged warbler generally increased in response to warming temperatures but prairie warbler exhibited a non-linear response and began to decline as summer maximum temperatures exceeded 36 °C at the end of the century.

Conclusion

Linking empirical models with process-based landscape change models can be an effective way to predict climate change and management impacts on wildlife, but time frames greater than 100 years may be required to see climate related effects. We suggest that future research carefully consider species-specific effects and interactions between management and climate.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the many volunteers collecting North American Breeding Bird Survey counts, without whose efforts this study would not have been possible. This project was funded by the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Department of Interior USGS Northeast Climate Science Center graduate fellowships, and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent views of the Northeast Climate Science Center or the USGS. This manuscript is submitted for publication with the understanding that the United States Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Governmental purposes.

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Correspondence to Jaymi J. LeBrun.

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LeBrun, J.J., Schneiderman, J.E., Thompson, F.R. et al. Bird response to future climate and forest management focused on mitigating climate change. Landscape Ecol 32, 1433–1446 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-016-0463-x

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Keywords

  • Avian abundance
  • Climate change
  • Forest management
  • Empirical model
  • Ecosystem process based model
  • Forest landscape change model