New research shows that some birds are moving faster than ever to keep up with shifting climates. Here’s where they’re going.
We humans have our ways of coping with climate change: We’ll put down sandbags, escape pods, and even heat siphons to keep our homes from slipping away. But what about birds? How are they surviving bizarre rain patterns, extreme temperatures, and freak weather events?
Brooke Bateman has the answer to that. The post-doctorate ecologist from the University of Wisconsin, who once deciphered movements of Australian animals, wanted to figure out how breeding birds in North America were dealing with the havoc brought on by climate change. “How far and fast is climate change happening . . . that’s what I needed to know,” she says. With the help of scientists from Wisconsin and Australia, Bateman wove together climate data with location data for 285 North American species, and built models to show how rainfall, temperature, weather, and other variables affected every species’ distribution for every month of every breeding season from 1950 to 2011. (“I made a lot of models,” Bateman says.) Using the models as a reference, she then drew predictions on where the birds are ending up. The final results were published in Global Change Biology in December.–by Purbita Saha in Audubon.
NewTerrain February 15, 2016.