Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Climate-induced lake drying causes heterogeneous reductions in waterfowl species richness

July 1, 2015


Lake size has declined on breeding grounds for international populations of waterfowl.


Our objectives were to (1) model the relationship between waterfowl species richness and lake size; (2) use the model and trends in lake size to project historical, contemporary, and future richness at 2500+ lakes; (3) evaluate mechanisms for the species–area relationship (SAR); and (4) identify species most vulnerable to shrinking lakes.


Monte Carlo simulations of the richness model were used to generate projections. Correlations between richness and both lake size and habitat diversity were compared to identify mechanisms for the SAR. Patterns of nestedness were used to identify vulnerable species.


Species richness was greatest at lakes that were larger, closer to rivers, had more wetlands along their perimeters and were within 5 km of a large lake. Average richness per lake was projected to decline by 11 % from 1986 to 2050 but was heterogeneous across sub-regions and lakes. Richness in sub-regions with species-rich lakes was projected to remain stable, while richness in the sub-region with species-poor lakes was projected to decline. Lake size had a greater effect on richness than did habitat diversity, suggesting that large lakes have more species because they provide more habitat but not more habitat types. The vulnerability of species to shrinking lakes was related to species rarity rather than foraging guild.


Our maps of projected changes in species richness and rank-ordered list of species most vulnerable to shrinking lakes can be used to identify targets for conservation or monitoring.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Climate-induced lake drying causes heterogeneous reductions in waterfowl species richness
DOI 10.1007/s10980-015-0207-3
Authors Jennifer K. Roach, Dennis B. Griffith
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Landscape Ecology
Index ID 70192607
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle