Understanding How Climate and Land Use Change Will Impact Wetland-Dependent Birds: Are Waterfowl Effective Surrogates for Other Species?

Science Center Objects

The Prairie Pothole Region spans parts of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa and south-central Canada and contains millions of wetlands that provide habitat for breeding and migrating birds. Because it is the continent’s most important breeding area for waterfowl, conservation and management largely focuses on protecting habitat for nesting ducks. However, other wetland-dependent ...

The Prairie Pothole Region spans parts of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa and south-central Canada and contains millions of wetlands that provide habitat for breeding and migrating birds. Because it is the continent’s most important breeding area for waterfowl, conservation and management largely focuses on protecting habitat for nesting ducks. However, other wetland-dependent birds also rely on this region, and it is important to understand the degree to which habitat conserved for ducks provides habitat for other species, and how the quality of this habitat will be affected by climate change. Project researchers tested whether waterfowl are effective representatives, or surrogates, for other wetland-dependent birds by predicting how climate change will affect habitat suitability for waterfowl and other species. The team also considered how climate change is likely to affect land-use patterns and agricultural conversion risk, and used these predictions to identify areas of the landscape where both waterfowl and other species were expected to have suitable habitat in the future. This research was intended to help managers efficiently direct their resources towards conserving areas that will provide habitat to a broad suite of species.