Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: West Virginia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

West Virginia Project

Avian community change across time, elevations, and latitudes

August 2018 - May 2023


Participating Agencies

  • American Wildlife Conservation Foundation
  • West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
  • US Forest Service
  • National Science Foundation

Changing environmental conditions due to global climate change can have significant consequences for regional bird populations and communities over time, particularly along elevational and latitudinal gradients. For instance, populations of high-elevation species may decline and low-elevation species may begin to expand into higher elevations in response to increasing temperatures, with those rates potentially differing across latitudes. Thus, there is a critical need to investigate the effects of climate change on long-term community dynamics while incorporating elevational variability and latitudinal ranges. The objective of the proposed research is to improve understanding of the extent and causes of avian community change over time and across elevational and latitudinal gradients within the Appalachian Mountains. The specific aims of this study are to quantify the relationships of climate factors, habitat, elevation, and latitude with changes in avian species abundance and community turnover. The research will advance current scientific understanding of the role that changing climatic conditions have played in long-term avian community and population dynamics, with explicit consideration for patterns arising across elevational and latitudinal gradients. The study also lays the foundation for future research focused on climate change effects of birds in high-elevation habitats and mountain ranges, an important focus for emerging investigations of climate refugia.

Presentations Presentation Date
Clipp, H.L., C.T. Rota, and P.B. Wood. Post-breeding bird use of wildlife openings in a heavily forested landscape. North American Ornithological Conference, Puerto Rico. 12 Aug 2020. August 2020
Clipp, H.L., C. Johnson, D.T. Rota, P.B. Wood. Optimizing multi-species occupancy of game and non-game bird species in wildlife openings within Central Appalachian forests. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference, Reno, NV September 2019