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Friday, September 12, 2014

Climate Change and Bird Habitat by Tom Maloney, Executive Director



The report on climate change (http://climate.audubon.org/) released today by the Conservancy’s close partner the National Audubon Society reveals distressing trends and projections on the distribution of birds in North America.  The Conservancy shares National Audubon’s concerns over the ecological impacts from climate change and has been working with partners to anticipate the changes.  The Southern Sierra Partnership prepared a region-wide framework (http://www.southernsierrapartnership.org/ssp-framework.html) for climate change adaptation.  Also, Conservancy Board member Dr. Frank Davis and several colleagues are conducting a large scale macro-systems experiment with a couple study sites on Tejon Ranch that seeks to refine our understanding of how important tree species will respond to anticipated climatic changes.  Despite all of the worrisome news, Tejon Ranch’s large size and 6,000 foot elevation range offer a number of micro-climates that may provide refuge to species as they attempt to adapt to changes in climate.  The Conservancy’s conservation planning seeks to ameliorate other stresses to foster the ability to adapt to shifts in climate.

Let's have a look at how researchers are modeling these changes for a few common species on Tejon Ranch:

Golden Eagle (Climate Endangered)- We are lucky to have this iconic species on Tejon Ranch year-round. As climate changes and prey habitat/abundances shift, these amazing predators may not be so common on the property. Click the photo for a map of modeled range fluctuations as a result of climate change. Photo courtesy of Greg Smith www.flickr.com/photos/slobirdr


http://climate.audubon.org/birds/goleag/golden-eagle



Western Bluebird (Climate Threatened)- This jewel of the west is one of Tejon's most common and attractive birds. Visitors to the ranch will often see large family groups flying, calling, and feeding with one another. Although their habitat looks secure in California, climate change will likely affect bluebird habitat throughout the West. Click the photo for a map of modeled range fluctuations as a result of climate change. Photo courtesy of Greg Smith www.flickr.com/photos/slobirdr

http://climate.audubon.org/birds/wesblu/western-bluebird



White-breasted nuthatch (Climate Threatened)- This diminutive denizen of forests throughout North America will likely see some major habitat shifts over the next several decades. Fortunately, due to the elevational gradient on Tejon Ranch, we will likely see this species for the foreseeable future.
Click the photo for a map of modeled range fluctuations as a result of climate change. Photo courtesy of Greg Smith www.flickr.com/photos/slobirdr


http://climate.audubon.org/birds/whbnut/white-breasted-nuthatch


Lastly, it is important to differentiate between the climate and the weather.  Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson does a good job of that in the video below: