A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society finds that several iconic Adirondack birds are in trouble, with declines driven by the size of their wetland habitats, how connected these wetlands are to one another, and how near they are to human infrastructure.
The Adirondack Park represents the southern range extent for several species of boreal forest birds in eastern North America. Like any species at the edge of its range, they face challenges in this environment. The habitats of these boreal specialists cool, wet, sphagnum-draped bogs and swampy woods are thought to be vulnerable to climate change, particularly in the Adirondacks where they are more fragmented than in forest to the north.
In her paper, "Dynamics of Boreal Birds at the Edge of Their Range in the Adirondack Park, NY," author and WCS Adirondack Program Science Director Michale Glennon explores occupancy patterns over time for eight bird species in lowland boreal forest wetlands in the Adirondacks. The study, which appears in Northeastern Naturalist (2014, Volume 21, Issue 1), presents an evaluation of the potential influence of climate change and habitat alteration on species occurrence patterns over time.
A total of 1,105 count surveys conducted between 2007 and 2011 in wetlands ranging in size from 0.046.0 square kilometers resulted in 1,305 detections of target species, with yellow-bellied flycatcher (30 percent), Lincoln's sparrow (23 percent), and yellow palm warbler (20 percent) detected most often, and fewer detections of black-backed woodpecker (8 percent), gray jay (8 percent), olive-sided flycatcher (6 percent), boreal chickadee (3 percent), and rusty blackbird (2 percent).
Patterns of species occurrence from year to year indicated that these birds function as metapopulations (spatially separated members of the same species that interact with one another through migration in and out of habitat patches). Glennon found that the area
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Wildlife Conservation Society