Grassland birds in North America have experienced sharp declines over the last 60 years driven by the widespread loss and degradation of grassland habitats. In recent decades, modern climate change has amplified these pressures. Climate change is occurring more rapidly in grasslands relative to some other ecosystems, and exposure to extreme and novel climate conditions may affect grassland bird ecology and demographics. To understand the potential effects of weather and climate variability on grassland birds, we systematically reviewed published empirical relationships between temperature and precipitation and demographic responses in grassland bird species of North America. We used a vote-counting approach to quantify the frequency and direction of significant effects of weather and climate variability on grassland birds. We found that grassland birds were likely to experience both positive and negative effects of higher temperatures and altered precipitation, with moderate, sustained increases in mean temperature and precipitation potentially benefiting some species, but extreme heat, drought, and heavy rainfall often reducing abundance and nest success. These patterns varied among climate regions, temporal scales of temperature and precipitation (< 1 month or ≥ 1 month), and taxa. The sensitivity of grassland bird populations to extreme weather and altered climate variability will likely be mediated by regional climates, interaction with other stressors, life history strategies of various species, and species’ tolerances for novel climate conditions.
|Title||Sensitivity of North American grassland birds to weather and climate variability|
|Authors||Scott Maresh Nelson, Christine Ribic, Neal D. Niemuth, Jacy Bernath-Plaisted, Benjamin Zuckerberg|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Conservation Biology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||National Climate Adaptation Science Center|