Bioclimatic Envelopes for Birds and Mammals

We will use bioclimatic envelope modeling to assess distributions of bird and mammal species. Bioclimatic envelopes describe the space in temperature and moisture where a terrestrial species would be present. Bioclimatic envelope models use climatic variables characterizing patches currently occupied by a species to define the coarse-scale niche space in which a species can exist. The impact of climate change on the persistence of the species is then predicted according to its current “envelope”. Bioclimatic envelope modeling is useful as a first approximation of the possible impact of climate change on a species’ distribution, and as a means of establishing absolute physiological thresholds for a species.

Bioclimatic envelopes will be developed for mammal and bird species based on field measurements and existing literature on ranges of species in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan in relation to temperature and moisture regimes. We will use these envelopes to predict range changes in response to different downscaled GCM scenarios through the end of the 21st Century. We will also identify those mammal and bird species where predicted ranges based on bioclimatic envelopes may be out of phase with required habitat components. For example, the potential range for grassland obligate bird species may shift northward as the climate becomes hotter and drier but populations of these species will not thrive until savanna or grassland-type habitats also shift.

See Predicted Responses of Birds and Mammals.