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UM study links climate change, decline in songbird populations

January 25, 2012 1 comment

billingsgazette.com

University of Montana biology professor John Maron, left, and Thomas Martin, UM biology professor and U.S. Geological Survey scientist, explain the reduction of songbird populations in Arizona due to changing climate conditions.

JOHN CREPEAU/Missoulian University of MISSOULA — A decline in snow at high elevations has led to shrinking songbird populations in the mountains of northern Arizona, a new study by two University of Montana scientists found.

Some of the same bird species inhabit Montana.

U.S. Geological Survey senior scientist and UM professor Thomas Martin, along with UM biology professor John Maron, recently published the findings of their six-year study on indirect effects of climate change on ecosystems.

The abundance of deciduous trees and songbird populations have declined over the past 22 years because of decreasing snowpack above 8,000 feet in northern Arizona. Because of less snow, elk remain at higher elevations for longer periods of time, browsing on plants that provide cover and nesting places for birds.

The study is available now online, Martin said, while a hard copy of the journal Nature Climate Change is due out next month.

“The indirect effects of climate on plant communities may be Read more…