DOINews: Precipitation Matters More than Warming Temperature in Determining Future Bird Distributions Across the West

Last edited 4/26/2016

hummingbird (for Betts 2014 pub announcement) 200x200For most bird species across the west, regional warming is not as likely to influence population trends as will changes in precipitation. So suggests a Northwest Climate Science Center-funded paper recently published in the journal Global Change Biology.

The paper is titled "Precipitation and winter temperature predict long-term range-scale abundance changes in Western North American birds".

Its authors, Javier Guttierrez Illan, Chris Thomas, Julia Jones, Weng-Keen Wong, Susan Shirley and Matthew Betts, used historical data about bird abundance from 1970-1974 to test the ability of climate models to accurately predict bird distributions in 1998-2002. Observed changes in bird abundances matched predicted changes for 59% of the species considered in this study. The most important variables for predicting changes were related to patterns of precipitation and to minimum winter temperatures. Authors of the paper are from Oregon State University and University of York.

For more information see the recent press release or contact Mattew Betts at

Read more about this research project at: Disentangling the Effects of Climate and Landscape Change on Bird Population Trends in the Western U.S. and Canada

Image: Hummingbird. Source: Oregon State University.