“Partnerships Enhance Scope and Scale of Phenology Research” by Dr. Julie Heath
Managing biodiversity on DoD installations requires identifying species and populations vulnerable to climate change through phenology mismatch. Phenology mismatch occurs when interacting species shift the timing of annual cycles phases at different rates. Understanding the impacts of phenology shifts is difficult for migratory and wide-spread species that spend portions of their annual cycle hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from DoD installation boundaries. Here, we describe the Full Cycle Phenology Project, the collaborative research network which seeks to understand the causes and consequences of phenology shifts in American kestrels across their range. Through partnerships with citizen-scientists, long-term researchers, and DoD biologists, we are assembling a comprehensive, continental-scale dataset of kestrel nest records, counts at migration monitoring sites, eBird observations, and feather samples for genetic analyses. Consequently, information collected during all stages of the annual cycle and across North America has expanded the scope and spatial scale of phenology research questions that can be addressed. We highlight a case study that leverages data from our partnerships to understand the environmental drivers of American kestrel breeding phenology across the species’ range. Results from this and other collaborative efforts will help to inform a simulation model to forecast the impacts of future climate change scenarios on kestrel phenology.
“Full Annual Cycle Framework for Forecasting Species Responses to Climate Change” by Mr. Jason Winiarski
The capacity for species to adapt to changing climate conditions will depend on complex relationships between genetics, phenotypes, fitness, and patterns of environmental change. New tools that integrate information across biological, temporal, and spatial scales are necessary to reliably forecast whether species may be at risk from rapidly changing environments. We are developing a novel individual-based model that will combine environmental conditions and individual genotypes and phenotypes to produce realistic population-level demographic patterns. The model, Simulation of Carry-Over Effects on Phenology (SCOPE), spans several full annual cycles to incorporate inter-seasonal and inter-annual effects on phenology, reproduction, and survival. A prototype of this model was built to test hypotheses regarding advanced timing of nesting in a partially migratory population of American kestrels. Our simulation experiments suggest that earlier nesting in kestrels is best explained by the additive effects of shorter migration distances and the fitness benefits conferred by early season nesting as a consequence of warming winters. These results provide evidence for several potential mechanisms resulting in birds breeding earlier, and illustrate the complex and cascading effects of climate change on annual cycles. Adaptive and dynamic models will improve predictions of which species are vulnerable to climate change and make management of species of concern more effective and cost-efficient.
Dr. Julie Heath is a professor of biological sciences at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. Julie’s research focuses on avian responses to human-driven environmental change such as climate change and human disturbance. Julie studies the mechanisms underlying animal and environment interactions at different scales, from individual behavior and physiology to population patterns and processes. Julie is the Principal Investigator on the SERDP-supported Full Cycle Phenology project that uses an annual cycle framework to study the phenology of migratory birds and forecast population vulnerability to seasonal changes driven by climate change. She earned her bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of California at Davis, a master’s degree in raptor biology from Boise State University, and a doctoral degree in wildlife ecology and conservation from the University of Florida.
Mr. Jason Winiarski is a doctoral student in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Program at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. The focus of Jason’s research is avian migration ecology in the context of full annual cycles. He is particularly interested in identifying environmental drivers of breeding and migration phenology in migratory birds and forecasting the consequences of changes in timing using full annual cycle modeling approaches. Jason is a member of the SERDP-funded Full Cycle Phenology Project, which aims to understand whether and how American kestrels and other migratory birds will adapt their migration and breeding timing to changing climate. He earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology from North Carolina State University.