Skip to Main Content
Effects of drought on avian community structureAuthor(s): Thomas P. Albright; Anna M. Pidgeon; Chadwick D. Rittenhouse; Murray K. Clayton; Curtis H. Flather; Patrick D. Culbert; Brian D. Wardlow; Volker C. Radeloff
Source: Global Change Biology. 16: 2158-2170.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (639.0 KB)
DescriptionDroughts are expected to become more frequent under global climate change. Avifauna depend on precipitation for hydration, cover, and food. While there are indications that avian communities respond negatively to drought, little is known about the response of birds with differing functional and behavioural traits, what time periods and indicators of drought are most relevant, or how response varies geographically at broad spatial scales. Our goals were thus to determine (1) how avian abundance and species richness are related to drought, (2) whether community variations are more related to vegetation vigour or precipitation deviations and at what time periods relationships were strongest, (3) how response varies among avian guilds, and (4) how response varies among ecoregions with different precipitation regimes. Using mixed effect models and 1989-2005 North American Breeding Bird Survey data over the central United States, we examined the response to 10 precipitation- and greennessbased metrics by abundance and species richness of the avian community overall, and of four behavioural guilds. Drought was associated with the most negative impacts on avifauna in the semiarid Great Plains, while positive responses were observed in montane areas. Our models predict that in the plains, Neotropical migrants respond the most negatively to extreme drought, decreasing by 13.2% and 6.0% in abundance and richness, while permanent resident abundance and richness increase by 11.5% and 3.6%, respectively in montane areas. In most cases, response of abundance was greater than richness and models based on precipitation metrics spanning 32-week time periods were more supported than those covering shorter time periods and those based on greenness. While drought is but one of myriad environmental variations birds encounter, our results indicate that drought is capable of imposing sizable shifts in abundance, richness, and composition on avian communities, an important implication of a more climatically variable future.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationAlbright, Thomas P.; Pidgeon, Anna M.; Rittenhouse, Chadwick D.; Clayton, Murray K.; Flather, Curtis H.; Culbert, Patrick D.; Wardlow, Brian D.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2010. Effects of drought on avian community structure. Global Change Biology. 16: 2158-2170.
Keywordsabundance, birds, drought, Great Plains, greenness, mixed effects models, North American Breeding Bird Survey, precipitation, richness, United States
- Combined effects of heat waves and droughts on avian communities across the conterminous United States
- Heat waves measured with MODIS land surface temperature data predict changes in avian community structure
- Avifauna response to hurricanes: regional changes in community similarity
XML: View XML