A warmer future could make a common Midwestern songbird much rarer, according to a research team whose study on the impact of climate change on acadian flycatchers at the population level was published in the journal Nature Climate Change .
The study by lead author Thomas Bonnot of the University of Missouri-Columbia and co-authors, including Frank Thompson, a research animal biologist with the USDA Forest Service's Northern Research Station, predicted Acadian flycatcher populations through the year 2100 over the 96 million hectares Great Central Hardwoods region.
In order to investigate how climate change affects the regional population of Acadian snappers over time, researchers combined data on individual breeding productivity with different climate scenarios in a dynamic landscape metapopulation model. Under severe warming forecasts, flycatchers breeding in many areas of the Central Hardwoods would produce fewer than one young bird per female per year by 21
"If brood productivity is reduced to this extent, this abundant species currently undergoes a population decline as large as Thompson."
In addition to changes in the forest habitat that would affect flycatchers, warmer temperatures are likely to increase nest predation especially through snakes that are a significant predator on Acadian flycatcher nests.
"Our study focused on flycatchers, but many songbirds face the same predators and are prone to similar temperature effects," Thompson said Threat that climate change poses to entire populations. Many factors that affect flycatcher populations are likely to change over this period, so we do not realistically expect flycatcher populations to respond exactly as we predicted. However, our study highlights one very important point: Climate change can have very complicated impacts on the species, with potentially serious consequences for wildlife.
The authors include Thompson and Bonnot as well as Andrew Cox of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Joshua J. Millspaugh of the University of Montana-Missoula
USDA Forest Service – Northern Research Station . .