Songbirds and Climate Change

Songbirds and Climate Change

GWCS.Toolik.Jun.2010Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory ecosystem ecologist Natalie Boelman examines how global climate change will affect migratory songbirds—including the white-crowned sparrow seen here—that spend winters in our backyards and migrate to the Alaskan tundra to breed every summer. Among other effects, Arctic warming is causing spring snowmelt to occur earlier, and is changing the type of plant growth on the tundra. Boelman’s fieldwork in the foothills of the Brooks Mountain Range on the Alaska North Slope helps to determine how these changes affect food and shelter availability for the birds.

Boelman also leads a group of scientists from around the country who are working on “Animals on the Move,” a multi-year field campaign that is part of a larger NASA-sponsored effort to understand the impacts of climate change in Alaska and western Canada.

Image: John Wingfield