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

Colorado Project

Predicting Migratory Bird Responses to Climate Change:

July 2011 - December 2017


Participating Agencies

  • USFWS Migratory Bird Management
  • Division of Migratory Bird Management

Current adaptive management frameworks inform migratory bird habitat conservation and harvest decisions while accounting for a wide range of uncertainties (Nichols et al. 1995, Johnson et al. 1996, Williams et al. 1996). The wildlife management community has recently committed itself to a regional approach aimed at integrating habitat, harvest, and conservation management (Joint Ventures, Strategic Habitat Conservation, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives) and successful integration requires development of regional models for population and habitat dynamics that account for coordinated actions directed by habitat, conservation, and harvest management programs. Adaption of current models to meet the needs of an integrated approach are complicated by climate changes that will likely leading to shifts in system dynamics and introduce greater uncertainty into management decisions. In light of rapidly changing environmental conditions, adjustments of all elements of habitat and harvest management decision frameworks need consideration, including management objectives and actions, system models, and monitoring programs. This project focuses on redevelopment of system models for population dynamics to account for habitat conditions and environmental change, and the consequent monitoring needs. Top priorities include updating population databases for climate change analyses, developing habitat and environmental data scaled to population observations, and determining monitoring and estimation methods that are sensitive to changes in both population distributions and critical habitat features. The primary objectives of this study are: 1) to explore long-term data sets for waterfowl and breeding landbirds to understand and explain factors driving spatial and temporal variability; 2) to develop models relating breeding population sizes to environmental drivers that are linked to system changes predicted by climate models; 3) to predict population responses and implications for long-term monitoring programs and adaptive habitat and harvest management strategies, and 4) to provide recommendations for incorporating these new models into existing decision-making frameworks.