Tag Archives: United States

Climate and Land-use Change Altering Birds’ Range

Modeling Changes in Range - Hooded Warbler

The upper-left map is a model of the current range for the Hooded Warbler. The other maps show various scenarios for how that range will change by 2075. Blue colors represent gains in range (primarily in the north) while red represents a loss of range (primarily in the south, and in scattered areas where forest is projected to be lost).

A couple of months ago ago, when I was admittedly in a phase of never blogging, I had a paper published in PLoS ONE that examines how projected changes in climate and land use are likely to affect bird populations across the conterminous United States.  Given that I wasn’t blogging at the time, I thought I’d get it out here on Feathers and Folly.  It was a paper that got a lot of attention from the popular press…a rarity for me…including newspaper stories, an upcoming feature in Popular Science, and a live interview on South Dakota Public Radio.  Here’s the link to listen to the Public Radio story:

SD Public Radio – “Mid-day” – Birds, Climate, and Land-use

My “day job” with the U.S. Geological Survey is to map and model land use and land use change, using satellite imagery and other sources.  By modeling land use out into the future, we can determine how landscape changes might affect biodiversity, climate, hydrology, or other ecological processes.  This paper represents the first time I’ve been able to link my day job, with my passion of birds and birding, which is why I was so excited to do this work, and thrilled to get it published.

For access to the paper itself, anybody can freely download it from PLoS ONE. Click here to go to the web pages for the paper.

I modeled 50 species of birds for the U.S., with most showing losses of range at their southern edge due to a warming climate, with gains of range at the northern end.  Land change affected different species in different ways.  Some species actually benefit from man-drive landscape change, while many others are negatively impacted by loss of habitat.  The purpose of the paper was to show that it’s not just climate change that affects changes in bird populations, but also how man uses the landscape.

Maps such as the one found at the top are available for viewing for all 50 species that I modeled at the following website:

USGS Sohl Research – Climate and Land-use Change Impacts on Birds


Website – USGS EROS Land-cover Modeling

FORE-SCE Example

Finally. About 8 years after starting work on our own modeling framework and using it to project the Earth's land-cover out into the future, we have our own, official, dedicated USGS website.

Finally.  A website. 

USGS Land-Cover Modeling Website

This will be my 20th year working at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center.  OK…USGS EROS for short.  For the first 12 or so years, I primarily worked on the mapping of land cover (what’s on the surface of the Earth, such as “agriculture”, “urban”, Forest”, “wetland”, etc.), and analyzing land-use change, using satellite imagery.  About 8 years ago, we started work on taking the concept forward into the future, projecting what the landscape of the Earth will look like at some future date.  Over the years, I led the development of a new land-cover modeling framework, the “FORE-SCE” model (FOREcasting SCEnarios of land-use change).  FORE-SCE?  Get it?  We’re “FORE-SCE-ing” the future!!

It’s been fun over the last 8 years, and our modeling work has gotten quite a bit of attention.  However, that attention has all come from publications in the literature.  We haven’t had a website!  Until yesterday, when we finally had an official USGS website go active for the modeling work.

USGS Land-cover Modeling Website

Pretty simple so far, but it gives you an idea of what we do, has a few little tools to show “before” and “after” maps of land-cover, and lets you download some of our land-cover projection data that we’ve produced.  Excited to FINALLY have a web presence, a presence I hope to expand in the coming years, particularly with more interactive tools for data exploration and analysis.

Good day to be a scientist!!

AGEE PaperIt’s ALWAYS a good day to be a scientist when one of your papers is published in a journal.  Today I had a paper published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment.  The paper describes land-cover modeling that was done in the Great Plains of the United States.  We used our own, home-grown modeling framework, “FORE-SCE” (Forecasting Scenarios of Land-use Change), and projected land-cover change from 2006 out through the year 2100, for 4 different scenarios.

We’re doing the same kind of land-cover modeling for all of the U.S., with a goal of finishing by the end of the year.  The land-cover scenarios we’re producing are being used to look at the impacts of land-cover change on carbon fluxes and other greenhouse gases.  We really have a great team working on this.

Click here to take a look at the paper!   Drop what you’re doing!  Put down that book!  Turn off the TV!  Shut down the computer!  Ignore the family!  This is a paper that’s SURE to keep you riveted to your seat!