Wetland-dependent birds are considered to be at particularly high risk for negative climate change effects. Current and future distributions of American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), American Coot (Fulica americana), Black Tern (Chlidonias niger), Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) and Sora (Porzana carolina), five waterbird species common in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), were predicted using species distribution models (SDMs) in combination with climate data that projected a drier future for the PPR. Regional-scale SDMs were created for the U.S. PPR using breeding bird survey occurrence records for 1971-2000 and wetland and climate parameters. For each waterbird species, current distribution and four potential future distributions were predicted: all combinations of two Global Circulation Models and two emissions scenarios. Averaged for all five species, the ensemble range reduction was 64%. However, projected range losses for individual species varied widely with Sora and Black Tern projected to lose close to 100% and American Bittern 29% of their current range. Future distributions were also projected to a hypothetical landscape where wetlands were numerous and constant to highlight areas suitable as conservation reserves under a drier future climate. The ensemble model indicated that northeastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota would be the best areas for conservation reserves within the U.S. PPR under the modeled conditions.
Additional Publication Details
Potential effects of climate change on the distribution of waterbirds in the Prairie Pothole Region, U.S.A.