Altitudinal Range Shifts of Birds at the Southern Periphery of the Boreal Forest

Leader or Speaker: 
Jeremy Kirchman
Location of Event: 
Five Rivers EEC
March 5, 2018 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Topic: Altitudinal Range Shifts of Birds at the Southern Periphery of the Boreal Forest

Research published in the last decade has made it increasingly clear that some bird species are shifting their geographic ranges in response to climate warming. Much of this research makes use of data from long-term monitoring projects and repeated state bird atlas projects. Birds are presumed to be moving uphill as well as toward the poles, but detecting altitudinal shifts in mountainous areas with these kinds of data is difficult because the large geographic scale of most survey units masks the substantial elevational variation within their boundaries. In this talk I will describe our effort to directly measure altitudinal range shifts of bird breeding in the Adirondacks by repeating an altitudinal transect survey conducted forty years ago by Ken Able and Barry Noon at Whiteface Mountain. We found evidence for uphill movement of upper and lower range boundaries and of weighted mean altitude over the last 40 years, and for a regional trend toward warmer summers from Adirondack weather station data collected over this same period.

Dr. Jeremy Kirchman has been Curator of Birds at the New York State Museum and Affiliate Professor of Biology at the State University of New York at Albany since 2006. Kirchman grew up in Illinois and first became interested on ornithology during a summer job in the Ozark Mountains in 1993,and has been studying birds ever since. Kirchman earned a BA in biology from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1994, and a MS in zoology from Louisiana State University in 1997. It was at LSU that he first became interested in museum specimen collections. From 1997-2001 he worked at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL. In 2006 he completed his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Florida, writing his dissertation on the evolution of flightless birds on oceanic islands. Dr. Kirchman’s current research focus is on the biogeography and evolution of birds that breed in high-elevation “islands” of boreal forest in the Catskills and Adirondacks of New York.