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You are here: NRS Home / Research Programs / Forest Disturbance Processes / Climate Change and Events / Landscape Ecological Modeling / Modeling Bird Habitat Under Climate Change - DISTRIB-BIRD
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Modeling Bird Habitat Under Climate Change - DISTRIB-BIRD

Research Issue

[image:]  Diagram shows modeling process. Click on image to see larger version.

As climate change becomes an increasingly disruptive force on various ecosystems, the need to model its impact on bird habitats becomes crucial. Recent studies have already begun to demonstrate distributional shifts and behavioral responses of birds to a changing climate.  With more rapid changes in climate projected, it becomes evermore important to understand how bird habitats may shift.  In order to predict species distributional changes we must evaluate what habitat features are likely to shape a species distribution.  For many birds at broad extents both climate and land cover characteristics are likely determinates of where birds can live.  Therefore, we use an empirical species-based approach to incorporate both climate and vegetation data from individual tree species to model current and potential future habitat for birds in the eastern United States.  

Our Research

We adopt an empirical approach using three decision-tree based ensemble techniques (here called TriMod) to model the incidence of bird species (derived from Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data) using 80 climate, elevation and tree species distributions as predictors. We model the current distribution as well as potential suitable habitat changes under three Global Circulation Models (GCMs) – HadCM3, PCM, GFDL under scenarios of high and low emissions as defined by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We used the TriMod approach to relate these predictors to the incidence of bird species, including RandomForest for prediction, Bagging Trees to determine model stability and reliability, and a single regression tree (if a reliable model) to map which variables were important in different geographic areas. The future climate predictions were modeled by swapping current climate and tree species distributions with GCM-derived future climates and suitable tree habitat.
DISTRIB enabled us to predict the potential suitable habitats via incidence changes for 147 bird species for current and modelled future climates. From these, we derived maps of potential suitable bird habitat for each species, hotspot changes, ranked species tables and a host of other relevant outputs as compiled in our climate change bird atlas.

Research Results

Web Products

Research Publications

Iverson, Louis R.; Prasad, Anantha M.; Matthews, Stephen N.; Peters, Matthew. 2008. Estimating potential habitat for 134 eastern US tree species under six climate scenarios. Forest Ecology and Management. 254: 390-406.

Rodenhouse, N.L., S.N. Matthews, K.P. McFarland, J.D. Lambert, L.R. Iverson, A.M. Prasad, T.S. Sillett, and R.T. Homes. 2008. Potential effects of climate change on birds of the Northeast. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change.

Prasad, Anantha M.; Iverson, Louis R.; Liaw, Andy. 2006. Newer classification and regression tree techniques: Bagging and Random Forests for ecological prediction. Ecosystems. (9): 181-199.

Schwartz, Mark W.; Iverson, Louis R.; Prasad, Anantha M.; Matthews, Stephen N.; O'Connor, Raymond J. 2006. Predicting extinctions as a result of climate change. Ecology. 87(7): 1611-1615.

Matthews, Stephen; O'Connor, Raymond; Iverson, Louis R.; Prasad, Anantha M. 2004. Atlas of climate change effects in 150 bird species of the Eastern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-318. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station. 340 p.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Steve Matthews, USDA Forest Service - Northern Research Station - Ecologist
  • Louis Iverson, USDA Forest Service- Northern Research Station - Research Landscape Ecologist
  • Anantha Prasad, USDA Forest Service- Northern Research Station - Ecologist
  • Matt Peters, USDA Forest Service- Northern Research Station - GIS Analyst

Research Partners


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Last Modified: 10/21/2010

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