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Conserve the Call: Identifying and Managing Environmental Threats to the Common Loon

As part of BRI’s loon restoration project, Restore the Call, this booklet is the first in a series of publications that aim to highlight scientific findings in different areas of our loon research including environmental stressors, loon distribution and numbers, demographics and movement, and loon behavior. Based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Conservation and Management Plan for the Common Loon, this publication outlines loon monitoring, research, education, management, and policy requirements. It also provides proven strategies designed to reduce impacts to loon populations. Read More

Morphological Change to Birds over 120 Years Is Not Explained by Thermal Adaptation to Climate Change

Changes in morphology have been postulated as one of the responses of animals to global warming, with increasing ambient temperatures leading to decreasing body size. However, the results of previous studies are inconsistent. Problems related to the analyses of trends in body size may be related to the short-term nature of data sets, to the selection of surrogates for body size, to the appropriate models for data analyses, and to the interpretation as morphology may change in response to ecological drivers other than climate and irrespective of size. Using generalized additive models, we analysed trends in three morphological traits of 4529 specimens of eleven bird species collected between 1889 and 2010 in southern Germany and adjacent areas. Changes and trends in morphology over time were not consistent when all species and traits were considered. Six of the eleven species displayed a significant association of tarsus length with time but the direction of the association varied. Wing length decreased in the majority of species but there were few significant trends in wing pointedness. Few of the traits were significantly associated with mean ambient temperatures. We argue that although there are significant changes in morphology over time there is no consistent trend for decreasing body size and therefore no support for the hypothesis of decreasing body size because of climate change. Non-consistent trends of change in surrogates for size within species indicate that fluctuations are influenced by factors other than temperature, and that not all surrogates may represent size appropriately. Future analyses should carefully select measures of body size and consider alternative hypotheses for change. Read More

Conservation Status of North American Birds in the Face of Future Climate Change

Human-induced climate change is increasingly recognized as a fundamental driver of biological processes and patterns. Historic climate change is known to have caused shifts in the geographic ranges of many taxa and future climate change is expected to result in even greater redistributions of species. As a result, predicting the impact of climate change on future patterns of biodiversity will greatly aid conservation planning. Using the North American Breeding Bird Survey and Audubon Christmas Bird Count, two of the most comprehensive continental datasets of vertebrates in the world, and correlative distribution modeling, we assessed geographic range shifts for 588 North American bird species during both the breeding and non-breeding seasons under a range of future emission scenarios (SRES A2, A1B, B2) through the end of the century. Here we show that 314 species (53%) are projected to lose more than half of their current geographic range across three scenarios of climate change through the end of the century. For 126 species, loss occurs without concomitant range expansion; whereas for 188 species, loss is coupled with potential to colonize new replacement range. We found no strong associations between projected climate sensitivities and existing conservation prioritizations. Moreover, species responses were not clearly associated with habitat affinities, migration strategies, or climate change scenarios. Our results demonstrate the need to include climate sensitivity into current conservation planning and to develop adaptive management strategies that accommodate shrinking and shifting geographic ranges. The persistence of many North American birds will depend on their ability to colonize climatically suitable areas outside of current ranges and management actions that target climate adaptation. Read More

Protocol with Mexico amending Convention for Protection of Migratory Birds and Game Mammals : message from the President of the United States transmitting a protocol between the government of the Unit

This treaty between the United States and Mexico deals with hunting ducks and collecting duck eggs by indigenous people in North America. This treaty amends the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds in Canada and the United States. Read More

Protocol amending the 1916 Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds : message from the President of the United States transmitting a protocol between the United States and Canada amending the

This treaty is an amendment between the United States and Canada to the statute making it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell certain birds. The statute does not discriminate between live or dead birds and also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs and nests. Read More

Selection and Use of Aquatic Vegetation by Migratory Waterfowl in North Central Texas

Assessment of aquatic plant selection by waterfowl has been conducted during the winters of 1997-2000 on 49 0.2-0.79 ha research ponds in north central Texas. Ponds were categorized by dominant plant species into eight habitat types. Census with waterfowl species identification were performed to investigate impacts of aquatic vegetation and water depth on waterfowl. Eighteen waterfowl species were observed. Peak migration occurred in late December/early January. Mixed native ponds and mixed native/hydrilla ponds were the most frequently selected habitat types. The study included correlation analysis between pond water levels and waterfowl use. Full ponds received greatest use followed by half full ponds, while almost empty ponds received minimal use. Time activity budgets were conducted on waterfowl utilizing mixed native and hydrilla ponds to compare waterfowl time partitioning on native aquatic vegetation versus hydrilla. Although only minor differences were found in time budgets, social status appears to be strongly related to habitat selection. Ducks on native ponds were paired (86%), conversely no ducks on hydrilla ponds were paired. Hydrilla pond although frequently utilized, were populated by lower status birds mostly single hens. Read More

Thresholds in Avian Communities at Multiple Scales: RelationshipsBetween Birds, Forests, Habitats, and Landscapes in the Ray Roberts Greenbelt, Denton

Environmental management agencies make efforts to reduce pollution loading in streams and rivers by promoting vegetated buffer zones between human activity and water. Most of these efforts do not mesh water quality-based buffer zone width requirements with conservation and wildlife values, specifically, the use of these riparian forest corridors for wildlife dispersal between habitats in highly fragmented landscapes. Forest interior birds are of the most concern to management in riparian forests due to their population declines across much of their breeding range. This dissertation investigates the role that landscape-level and habitat-level factors play on the presence of breeding birds in riparian forests, particularly the landscape and habitat factors that are influenced by human-caused fragmentation. This study describes research at the Ray Roberts Greenbelt, Denton, Texas, that explores the relationships between the landscape and forest habitats of the Greenbelt with its breeding bird community. The major findings of this study are that bird communities in the corridor forests are associated with a greater array of factors than are bird communities in patches, suggesting that the birds of patch forests are somewhat insulated from landscape-scale effects. Also, habitat values can be maintained in corridors, but there does not seem to be a significant relationship between the bird communities and the habitat. Forest factors are the primary influences (as inferred from the number of associations and the relative strength of these associations) on the bird communities of the Ray Roberts Greenbelt. Thresholds of richness or abundance in the amount of forest as compared with the forest interior bird community suggest that patches are better than corridors to support this community, and that the more interior forest available, the better for forest interior birds. The suggested minimum amount of forest derived from these thresholds is 35% of the amount of forest within 1 kilometer of any given part of the Greenbelt. Thresholds in forest width for avian communities suggest a minimum width of 200 m for any corridor. Thresholds in distance from interior forest suggest that the forest interior bird community can be best supported by shorter corridors that connect larger patches, with a suggested maximum corridor length of 125 m. Read More

Wind Energy-related Wildlife Impacts: Analysis and Potential Implications for Rare, Threatened and Endangered Species of Birds and Bats in Texas

Texas currently maintains the highest installed nameplate capacity and does not require publicly available post-construction monitoring studies that examine the impacts of wind energy production on surrounding fauna. This thesis examines potential wind energy impacts on avian and bat species in Texas through a three-part objective. The first two objectives synthesize literature on variables attractive to species within wind development areas and estimate impacted ranges outside of Texas, based on studies examining wind energy’s environmental impacts. The third objective focuses on Texas wind development potential for interaction with rare, threatened and endangered species of birds and bats using GIS analysis with a potential hazard index (PHI) model, which addresses broad-spectrum, high risk variables examined within the first two objectives. Assuming areas with higher wind speeds have potential for wind development, PHI values were calculated for 31 avian and ten bat species, based on an analysis of species range data obtained from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and wind data obtained from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Results indicate one avian species, Tympanuchus pallidicinctus, is at high risk for wind development interaction on an annual basis, with 20 species of birds and nine species of bats at higher risk during the spring season. This macro-scale approach for identifying high risk species in Texas could be used as a model to apply to other conterminous states’ preliminary evaluation of wind energy impacts. Read More

Bird Conservation

This Web site explores the links between EPA programs and bird conservation. (“The inclusion of a link on this page does not constitute an endorsement by EPA of any organization’s policies or activities, or of any item for sale. EPA makes no guarantees regarding information, data or links contained on non-EPA web sites. Please note that many of the following links will transport you off the EPA server.”) Read More

Flying WILD: En Educator’s Guide to Celebrating Birds

Flying WILD, a program of the Council for Environmental Education, introduces students to bird conservation through standards-based classroom activities and environmental stewardship projects. Flying WILD encourages schools to work closely with conservation organizations, community groups, and businesses involved with birds to implement school bird festivals and bird conservation projects. Read More

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EERL is a product of a community college-based National Science Foundation Center, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), and its partners.

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