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Susan K Skagen

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The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of the north-central U.S. and south-central Canada contains millions of small prairie wetlands that provide critical habitat to many migrating and breeding waterbirds. Due to their small size and the relatively dry climate of the region, these wetlands are considered at high risk for negative climate change effects as temperatures increase. To estimate the potential impacts of climate change on breeding waterbirds, we predicted current and future distributions of species common in the PPR using species distribution models (SDMs). We created regional-scale SDMs for the U.S. PPR using Breeding Bird Survey occurrence records for 1971–2011 and wetland, upland, and climate variables....
Our knowledge of avian behaviors during the non-breeding period still lags behind that of the breeding season, but the last decade has witnessed a proliferation in research that has yielded significant progress in understanding migration patterns of North American birds. And, although the great majority of migration research has historically been conducted in the eastern half of the continent, there has been much recent progress on aspects of avian migration in the West. In particular, expanded use of techniques such as radar, plasma metabolites, mist-netting, count surveys, stable isotopes, genetic data, and animal tracking, coupled with an increase in multi-investigator collaborations, have all contributed to...
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Prairie ecosystems and the grassland birds that rely on them for habitat may be particularly vulnerable to rapid changes in climate. Extensive portions of prairie have already been lost due to agriculture and urbanization, and as a result grassland birds have declined more than any other bird group in the last four decades. Now, climate change could exacerbate existing threats to these birds as temperatures in certain prairie ecosystems are expected to rise and extreme weather events, such as drought, could become more common. The goal of this project was to develop a framework to identify demographic sensitivities and assess the vulnerability of grassland bird species to future climate change. To do so, the researchers...
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The Prairie Pothole Region spans parts of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa and south-central Canada and contains millions of wetlands that provide habitat for breeding and migrating birds. Because it is the continent’s most important breeding area for waterfowl, conservation and management largely focuses on protecting habitat for nesting ducks. However, other wetland-dependent birds also rely on this region, and it is important to understand the degree to which habitat conserved for ducks provides habitat for other species, and how the quality of this habitat will be affected by climate change. Project researchers tested whether waterfowl are effective representatives, or surrogates, for other wetland-dependent...
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The habitats and food resources required to support breeding and migrant birds dependent on North American prairie wetlands are threatened by impending climate change. The North American Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) hosts nearly 120 species of wetland-dependent birds representing 21 families. Strategic management requires knowledge of avian habitat requirements and assessment of species most vulnerable to future threats. We applied bioclimatic species distribution models (SDMs) to project range changes of 29 wetland-dependent bird species using ensemble modeling techniques, a large number of General Circulation Models (GCMs), and hydrological climate covariates. For the U.S. PPR, mean projected range change, expressed...
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