Study Examines Effects of Climate Change on Birds, Reptiles in the Southwest

Apr 9, 2014

Williamson's sapsucker, as pictured in the USGS report "Projecting Climate Effects on Birds and Reptiles of the Southwestern United States"
Credit Sally King / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new study released by the U.S. Geological Survey looks at the effects of climate change on certain species in the American Southwest.  KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.

The study focuses on twelve bird and reptile species in the southwest and how they’re expected to endure changes in breeding ranges and habitats.

USGS research ecologist and the study’s main author Dr. Charles van Riper III says the main finding is there’s no uniform reaction among species to climate change, as shown by two birds studied.

"Williamson's sapsucker is one I think that managers should keep their eye on," said van Riper, "as potentially having a little bit of trouble with changing climate patterns in southwest Colorado. Other birds like Virginia’s warbler which breed there should do very well."

Van Riper said the study provides land managers and the public with an idea of the impacts so they can take action to mitigate potential effects.

The species studied were selected by an advisory board with members from the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and various other land management officials and scientists.