Quantifying Vulnerability of Quaking Aspen Woodlands and Associated Bird Communities to Global Climate Change in the Northern Great Basin

Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative
Posted on: 7/18/2022 - Updated on: 5/17/2023

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Aspen populations are in decline across western North America due to altered fire regimes, herbivory, drought, pathogens, and competition with conifers. Aspen stands typically support higher avian biodiversity than surrounding habitats, and maintaining current distributions of several avian species is likely tied to persistence of aspen on the landscape. We are examining effects of climate change on aspen and associated avian communities in isolated mountain ranges of the northern Great Basin, by coupling empirical models of avian-habitat relationships with spatially-explicit landscape simulations of vegetation and disturbance dynamics (using LANDIS-II) under various climate change scenarios.

We are addressing the following questions:

  1. What are the current successional, structural, and distribution patterns of aspen on the landscape, and how do these patterns affect bird abundance?
  2. How will fire and climate change affect aspen condition and distribution?
  3. What are the implications for the long-term persistence of associated avian communities?

The results from our field investigations will provide information not currently available for the northern Great Basin and, when combined with our modeled future projections, will help land managers develop conservation and restoration strategies for both bird and aspen communities. Indeed, much outreach has already occurred, and the project has already helped managers develop strategies through a host of webinars, presentations, and articles.

Project Products:


Quantifying Vulnerability of Quaking Aspen Woodlands and Associated Bird Communities to Global Climate Change in the Northern Great Basin. (2013). Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative. https://www.sciencebase.gov/catalog/item/59f4b0a5e4b063d5d307d830

Affiliated Organizations

The Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) is one of 22 LCCs nationwide established by the Department of the Interior to better integrate science and management to address climate change and related issues. The Great Basin LCC is a self-directed partnership between bureaus and others involved in natural resource management and conservation.

The USGS is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and useable information.

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