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    Description

    Changing climate may impact species through several processes, including phenologic shifts in seasonal timing of food supplies. These temporal changes can create trophic mismatches for species during major life-cycle events such as migration. For long-distance Neotropical–Nearctic migratory songbirds, body condition prior to migration is related to quality and quantity of food supply, which is a function of precipitation and temperature conditions on the wintering grounds. We assessed how future climate-change scenarios might affect wintering habitat of Setophaga kirtlandii (Kirtland's Warbler) on the Bahamian Archipelago. We used ensembles of general-circulation models to project precipitation and temperature patterns across the archipelago over the winter period, from baseline average until the end of the century. We also used topography layers to define Kirtland's Warbler winter habitat (open lands) and then made landcover-loss projections for open lands using 1- and 2-m sea-level–rise scenarios. Our results indicate that the Bahamian islands used by Kirtland's Warbler will become warmer and wetter during the winter months, except during March when central islands are predicted to go through a drying trend. Moreover, our models predict that the greatest habitat loss of coastal open land due to sea-level rise will occur on the northern, lower-elevation islands. If we consider both potential changes in habitat quality and quantity from changing climate, the north-central islands, which currently contain the majority of the wintering population, are likely the critical islands on which to focus climate-adaptation strategies. To help land managers spatially plan for habitat alteration, continued processing of high-resolution imagery is necessary for finer assessments of potential habitat loss, changes in habitat quality, and redistribution of habitats across this island system in response to changing environmental conditions and sea-level rise.

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    Citation

    ​​Wolcott, Daniel M.; Donner, Deahn M.; Brown, Donald J.; Ribic, Christine A. 2018. Kirtland's warbler winter habitat changes across the Bahamian Archipelago in response to future climate-condition scenarios. Caribbean Naturalist. 49: 1-20.

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