Distributional Changes in Ohio's Breeding Bird Populations and the Importance of Climate and Land Cover Change
Katharine Batdorf, MS Candidate
Advisor: Paul Rodewald
Understanding the factors that determine species distributions and why distributions change over time are essential questions in the field of biogeography. Breeding Bird Atlases (BBAs) are detailed, grid-based surveys that document avian breeding ranges, and are valuable sources of information for addressing the aforementioned questions. BBAs have been conducted in over 40 U.S. states, and many states are now conducting, or have recently finished, second atlas projects some 20 - 25 years after the first atlases. Ohio conducted its first BBA from 1982 to 1987 and is currently finishing its second atlas (2006-2011). My work will examine distributional changes of breeding birds in Ohio between the first and second atlas periods, and seeks to answer the central question: Have breeding bird distributions in Ohio shifted in response to climate and land cover changes over the past 25 years? Climate and land cover changes have been documented across the globe over the past 25 years, and preliminary evidence from local weather stations and Landsat satellite data suggest that Ohio is no exception. Although there is a large body of research demonstrating that many species, including birds, have indeed responded to these large, widespread environmental changes, this study will be among the first in North America to analyze temporal shifts in breeding bird distributions at a regional scale using detailed Breeding Bird Atlas data. My analyses will contribute to a growing body of research investigating how climate and land cover change influence the distributions of organisms, and will produce a novel understanding of avian distribution shifts in Ohio.