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Valerie A. Steen

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The Prairie Pothole Region, situated in the northern Great Plains, provides important stopover habitat for migratory shorebirds. During spring migration in the U.S. Prairie Potholes, 7.3 million shorebirds refuel in the region's myriad small, freshwater wetlands. Shorebirds use mudflats, shorelines, and ephemeral wetlands that are far more abundant in wet years than dry years. Generally, climate change is expected to bring warmer temperatures, seasonality shifts, more extreme events, and changes to precipitation. The impacts to wetland habitats are uncertain. In the Prairie Potholes, earlier spring onset and warmer temperatures may advance drying of wetlands or, alternately, increased spring precipitation may produce...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecosphere
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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....
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We examined wetland selection by the Black Tern (Chlidonias niger), a species that breeds primarily in the prairie pothole region, has experienced population declines, and is difficult to manage because of low site fidelity. To characterize its selection of wetlands in this region, we surveyed 589 wetlands throughout North and South Dakota. We documented breeding at 5% and foraging at 17% of wetlands. We created predictive habitat models with a machine-learning algorithm, Random Forests, to explore the relative role of local wetland characteristics and those of the surrounding landscape and to evaluate which characteristics were important to predicting breeding versus foraging. We also examined area-dependent wetland...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: The Condor
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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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