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Phenological responses of North American birds to global change: Ecology in the age of big data

January 28, 2022 @ 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Speaker: Casey Youngflesh
IDRE Scholar,
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
University of California Los Angeles


Time: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (PST)
Date: Jan 28, 2022
Location: Zoom (RSVP here for the link)


Abstract: Rapid abiotic environmental change is driving a multitude of shifts in natural systems across the Earth. One of the most pronounced responses to these pressures is changes in the timing of seasonal events, known as phenology. With warming temperatures, phenological events in spring are generally getting earlier over time, stimulating concerns that ecological interactions are becoming increasingly mismatched in time. However, much remains unknown, particularly with regard to how these changes vary over space and across species, and what the ecological consequences of these changes are. Research efforts in this regard have been hampered by the limited spatial and taxonomic resolution of traditional data resources. Using a set of flexible hierarchical Bayesian statistical modeling approaches to integrate millions of data records from community-sourced data platforms, continent-scale bird banding projects, and satellite-based sensors, we characterized how the phenology of dozens of forest dwelling birds across North America is responding to global change. We estimated how species’ sensitivity to these changes varies over space and among species as well as the demographic impacts of these changes. We find that the phenology of most species is not keeping pace with environmental change, but that some species may be better equipped to accommodate these changes. Importantly, results show that phenology has important implications for the breeding productivity of these species’, with years where breeding occurs too early or too late relative to the arrival of spring is associated with lower breeding output. Results from this study, facilitated by analytical pipelines that integrate a collection of both opportunistic and structured data resources, stand as one of the largest-scale demonstrations of the importance of phenology for demographic processes, with important implications for understanding the drivers of recent large-scale declines in North American birds over the last 50 years.

About the speaker: Casey Youngflesh is a quantitative ecologist and postdoc with Morgan Tingley in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA. His research seeks to understand how ecological systems function, how they are responding to rapid global change, and what this might tell us about how best to conserve these systems. He has a particular interest in applying quantitative tools to large-scale data derived from a variety of sources, including citizen science projects, satellite-based sensors, remote camera networks, and field-based efforts. His research efforts have taken him across the world, from Antarctica to the Galápagos Islands, though these days he can mostly be found at his computer trying to make sense of his data.


January 28, 2022
11:30 am - 12:30 pm
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