Climate Change Bird Atlas

Louis Iverson

Created: 10/28/2013 - Updated: 2/27/2020


As the reality of global climate change becomes increasingly apparent to the public and to many policymakers, scientists are being called on to provide information about possible outcomes. Dr. Louis Iverson and Anantha Prasad began modelling and mapping tree species from the eastern United States for their potential response to several scenarios of climate change around 1996. Their first climate change atlas for trees examined 80 tree species and was published in hardcopy and web. Then they joined with Stephen Matthews and Raymond O'Connor (now deceased) to produce a change atlas for 150 bird species. Now, along with Matthew Peters, they have expanded their analysis and loaded to the web 134 tree species and 147 bird species at 20 km resolution, using more accurate modelling tools and newer climate models (GCMs).


We assess the current status and potential future status following climate change, of 147 bird species in the eastern United States. We use Breeding Bird Survey data with 11 environmental variables and 88 tree species potential change data to generate models of current suitable habitat for each species. We then change the climate according to three climate models (HADCM3, PCM & GFDL - see 3-GCMs for details) and two emissions scenarios (A1FI (Hi) = little conservation efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions, B1 (Lo) =significant conservation effort), and model the potential future species habitats. These two emissions scenarios bracket most of the emission futures as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's evaluation of emission scenarios (Nakicenovic et al. 2000), and end the 21st century at roughly double (550 ppm-B1) and triple (970 ppm-A1fi) the pre-industrial levels for CO2.


Natural resource managers, researchers/scientists


The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service is a Federal agency that manages public lands in national forests and grasslands. The Forest Service is also the largest forestry research organization in the world, and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the purpose of the Forest Service—"to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run."


Sector Addressed
Type of Tool
Modeling and Analysis
Species/Vegetation Models
Taxonomic Focus

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