Biotic response to the buildup of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere is considerably more complex than an adjustment to changing temperature and precipitation. The fertilization effect carbon dioxide has on some plants, the impact UVB radiation has on health and productivity of organisms, and the resulting changes in competitive balance and trophic structure must also be considered. The intent of this paper is to review direct and indirect effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases on wildlife, and to explore possible effects on populations of birds and their habitats in the northern Great Plains.Many of the potential effects of increasing greenhouse gases, such as declining plant nutritional value, changes in timing of insect emergence, and fewer and saltier wetlands, foreshadow a decline in avian populations on the Great Plains. However, other possible effects such as increased drought resistance and water use efficiency of vegetation, longer growing seasons, and greater overall plant biomass promise at least some mitigation. Effects of multiple simultaneous perturbations such as can be expected under doubled carbon dioxide scenarios will require substantial basic research to clarify.
Additional publication details
Potential effects of anthropogenic greenhouse gases on avian habitats and populations in the northern Great Plains