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Iconic boreal bird species declining in the Adirondacks, study says
Date:4/10/2014

and connectedness of their wetland habitats were important, as was nearby human infrastructure, with birds much more likely to disappear from smaller, isolated wetlands that are near development.

Occupancy rates for four of the eight study species were in decline; two appeared stable, and only Lincoln's sparrow and palm warbler appeared to be increasing in the Adirondack landscape. However, data collected since the study indicate that the situation may be getting worse.

"When I incorporate data collected since 2011, I am seeing declines for all species except palm warbler, some modest but some of them more troubling," said Michale Glennon. "The number of boreal wetlands occupied by five species rusty blackbird, gray jay, yellow-bellied flycatcher, olive-sided flycatcher, and black-backed woodpecker has decreased by 15 percent or more since 2007."

Glennon also looked at whether the birds appear to be shifting to higher latitudes and/or elevations, a pattern documented for many species responding to climate change around the globe. The analysis yielded inconsistent results (some birds moving northward or upward, some not), suggesting that over this small window of time, other factors may be playing a larger role in controlling these species' dynamics.

Glennon said, "The species in question are icons of the area and a big reason bird-watchers come to the Adirondacks. It is alarming to think that we can lose them here, of all places. They are very specialized species, however, and have specific habitat needs. In addition to the stresses of a warming climate, they may face competition and displacement from more cosmopolitan birds like blue jays which tend to come along with residential development."

WCS Adirondack Program Director Zoe Smith said, "Understanding the processes that drive the dynamics of boreal birds in the Adirondacks can enhance the ability of land managers to influence their long-term conservation. WC
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Contact: Scott Smith
ssmith@wcs.org
718-220-3698
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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