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Susan K Skagen

Our knowledge of avian behaviors during the non-breeding period still lags behind that of the breeding season, but the last decade has witnessed a proliferation in research that has yielded significant progress in understanding migration patterns of North American birds. And, although the great majority of migration research has historically been conducted in the eastern half of the continent, there has been much recent progress on aspects of avian migration in the West. In particular, expanded use of techniques such as radar, plasma metabolites, mist-netting, count surveys, stable isotopes, genetic data, and animal tracking, coupled with an increase in multi-investigator collaborations, have all contributed to...
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Prairie ecosystems and the grassland birds that rely on them for habitat may be particularly vulnerable to rapid changes in climate. Extensive portions of prairie have already been lost due to agriculture and urbanization, and as a result grassland birds have declined more than any other bird group in the last four decades. Now, climate change could exacerbate existing threats to these birds as temperatures in certain prairie ecosystems are expected to rise and extreme weather events, such as drought, could become more common. The goal of this project was to develop a framework to identify demographic sensitivities and assess the vulnerability of grassland bird species to future climate change. To do so, the researchers...
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The Prairie Pothole Region spans parts of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa and south-central Canada and contains millions of wetlands that provide habitat for breeding and migrating birds. Because it is the continent’s most important breeding area for waterfowl, conservation and management largely focuses on protecting habitat for nesting ducks. However, other wetland-dependent birds also rely on this region, and it is important to understand the degree to which habitat conserved for ducks provides habitat for other species, and how the quality of this habitat will be affected by climate change. Project researchers tested whether waterfowl are effective representatives, or surrogates, for other wetland-dependent...
Abstract (from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-009-9644-9): Recent changes in global climate have dramatically altered worldwide temperatures and the corresponding timing of seasonal climate conditions. Recognizing the degree to which species respond to changing climates is therefore an area of increasing conservation concern as species that are unable to respond face increased risk of extinction. Here we examine spatial and temporal heterogeneity in the rate of climate change across western North America and discuss the potential for conditions to arise that may limit the ability of western migratory birds to adapt to changing climates. Based on 52 years of climate data, we show that changes in...
Abstract (from Diversity and Distributions): Aim Surrogate species can provide an efficient mechanism for biodiversity conservation if they encompass the needs or indicate the status of a broader set of species. When species that are the focus of ongoing management efforts act as effective surrogates for other species, these incidental surrogacy benefits lead to additional efficiency. Assessing surrogate relationships often relies on grouping species by distributional patterns or by species traits, but there are few approaches for integrating outputs from multiple methods into summaries of surrogate relationships that can inform decisionā€making. Location Prairie Pothole Region of the United States. Methods...
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