Extreme weather events such as drought, cold snaps, and heat waves influence patterns in the abundance and demography of birds. We use satellite data (specifically, products from MODIS) to identify extreme weather events; these extreme events are coupled with habitat mapping derived from the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) along with bird data to test hypotheses regarding influences of weather. Bird data come from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) programs.
At this stage in the research, we have developed three indices of extreme events relating to precipitation, temperature, and evapotranspiration. Using these indices of extremes, our work revealed that drought in the core of a species range pushes birds to their range margin, emphasizing the need to conserve habitat for uncommon events. Additional research is assessing the merits of using short-term weather versus climatic means to describe the climate/weather conditions most suitable for species.
Changes in the distributions of bird species in response to recent climate change.