Navigation Links
Dramatic links found between climate change, elk, plants, and birds
Date:1/10/2012

Climate change in the form of reduced snowfall in mountains is causing powerful and cascading shifts in mountainous plant and bird communities through the increased ability of elk to stay at high elevations over winter and consume plants, according to a groundbreaking study in Nature Climate Change.

The U.S. Geological Survey and University of Montana study not only showed that the abundance of deciduous trees and their associated songbirds in mountainous Arizona have declined over the last 22 years as snowpack has declined, but it also experimentally demonstrated that declining snowfall indirectly affects plants and birds by enabling more winter browsing by elk. Increased winter browsing by elk results in trickle-down ecological effects such as lowering the quality of habitat for songbirds.

The authors, USGS Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit scientist Thomas Martin and University of Montana scientist John Maron, mimicked the effects of more snow on limiting the ability of elk to browse on plants by excluding the animals from large, fenced areas. They compared bird and plant communities in these exclusion areas with nearby similar areas where elk had access, and found that, over the six years of the study, multi-decadal declines in plant and songbird populations were reversed in the areas where elk were prohibited from browsing.

"This study illustrates that profound impacts of climate change on ecosystems arise over a time span of but two decades through unexplored feedbacks," explained USGS director Marcia McNutt. "The significance lies in the fact that humans and our economy are at the end of the same chain of cascading consequences."

The study demonstrates a classic ecological cascade, added Martin. For example, he said, from an elk's perspective, less snow means an increased ability to freely browse on woody plants in winter in areas where they would not be inclined to forage in previous times due to high snowpack. Increased overwinter browsing led to a decline in deciduous trees, which reduced the number of birds that chose the habitat and increased predation on nests of those birds that did choose the habitat.

"This study demonstrates that the indirect effects of climate on plant communities may be just as important as the effects of climate-change-induced mismatches between migrating birds and food abundance because plants, including trees, provide the habitat birds need to survive," Martin said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Catherine Puckett
cpuckett@usgs.gov
352-377-2469
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. World fertilizer prices drop dramatically after soaring to all-time highs
2. Dramatic expansion of dead zones in the oceans
3. Hoarding rainwater could dramatically expand range of dengue-fever mosquito
4. Duke software dramatically speeds enzyme design
5. Einstein and Pitt researchers develop new TB test that will dramatically cut diagnosis time
6. First ever worldwide census analysis of caribou/reindeer numbers reveals dramatic decline
7. CSHL-led team discovers rare mutation dramatically increasing schizophrenia risk
8. Report shows dramatic decline in Siberian tigers
9. Simple math explains dramatic beak shape variation in Darwins finches
10. Womens support groups make dramatic improvements on neonatal survival rates
11. Single gene dramatically boosts yield, sweetness in tomato hybrids, CSHL-Israeli study finds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/15/2016)... and BADEN-BADEN, Germany , December ... leading global financial services provider, today announced an agreement with ... behavioural biometrics, to join forces. The partnership will enable clients ... strategies in compliance with local data protection regulation. ... In order to ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... Advancements in biometrics will radically ... wellbeing (HWW), and security of vehicles by ... vehicles begin to feature fingerprint recognition, iris ... monitoring, brain wave monitoring, stress detection, fatigue ... detection. These will be driven by built-in, ...
(Date:12/12/2016)... CLEVELAND , Dec. 12, 2016  Researchers ... commercial possibilities for graphene by combining the material ... a highly sensitive pressure detector able to sense ... of a small spider.  The ... and can be read here:  http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6317/1257 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/24/2017)...  Asterias Biotherapeutics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: AST), a ... today announced positive efficacy results from the company,s ... additional motor function improvement at 6-months and 9-months ... AIS-A patients with complete cervical spinal cord injuries ... function is critically important to patients with complete ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... USA & Geneva, Switerland (PRWEB) , ... January ... ... to announce the first commercially available malaria Plasmodium falciparum culture panels with standard ... falciparum culture panels, which are available in a range of concentrations from six ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... ... January 23, 2017 , ... Oklahoma City based Sigma Blood ... for the firm’s PERFEQTA software and legacy product QC Manager 2.0. , Sigma ... team at CJBC and thrilled that they have decided to implement PERFEQTA and QC ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... - BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA ) today announced ... Rodman & Renshaw, a unit of H.C. Wainwright ... representative of several underwriters, under which the underwriters have ... minimum of 2,105,264 shares of common stock of the ... 1,052,632 shares of common stock of the Company with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: