Study Assessing Climate Change Impacts On Birds Includes Yosemite National Park

A year-long study could shed some light on how climate change is affecting more than 100 common Sierra Nevada bird species, such as Bullock's Oriole. USFWS photo.

A study intended to measure the impacts of climate change on Western bird species involves Yosemite National Park, where researchers will spend a year examining how some common Sierra Nevada species will respond to climate changes.

Along the way, these ornithologists will try to identify strategies land managers can use for reducing the effects of climate change on the bird species. Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the new study partners The Institute for Bird Populations with Yosemite National Park, the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region, and researchers at the University of California Davis. Yosemite, receiving $11,000 for its role, will be part of this first broad assessment of risks for Sierra bird species through the use of the NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability index.

The NatureServe index has been applied to ecological systems across the country; therefore, the Sierra Nevada project will be a highly transferable model for other regions or taxonomic groups to translate assessments into actionable adaptation plans useful to land managers. As the study’s first step, Sierra land managers will use the index to identify common bird species needing targeted adaptation and conservation actions. As the second step, a strategy will lay out actions for bolstering resilience of species and their habitats and to maximize the likelihood that vulnerable species will persist.

This project will address the current lack of information on climate change effects and counter measures, which currently leave the NPS and other land managers vulnerable to policy and legal challenges, particularly for special-status species.