• Red Rocks with water in front of them in the desert.
  • Clouds behind Joshua Tree and bushes.
  • Desert flowers blooming in bushes in front of mountains in the desert.
  • Setting sun reflecting of clouds of orange and blue behind a joshua tree.
  • Hoover Dam intake towers with water behind the dam showing that it is not full.


Developing Tools for Detecting Climate Change Impacts on Birds and Their Habitats in the Desert Southwest and Northwest Mexico

Science Need(s)

Assessing the vulnerability of species or ecosystems to climate change

Project Funding:  $51,000 provided by US Fish and Wildlife Service
Project Duration: 2012-2013

Project Goal(s)

Expand the development of a web tool that can be used by managers and in workshops for identifying climate change impacts, identifying adaptation opportunities, and improving capacity for making conservation decisions for wildlife populations and habitats using birds as indicators.

Brief Project Description

Assessing the vulnerability of species or ecosystems to climate change and formulating appropriate management responses requires predictions of the exposure and sensitivity of the species or ecosystems to projected changes. This collaborative effort by the Sonoran Joint Venture, Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and Point Reyes Bird Observatory will develop a foundation for monitoring environmental change in the desert southwest by identifying where and what to monitor in order to evaluate climate-change impacts.

Climate change will not have the same effects in all locations of the southwest– some areas will change quickly (hotspots) and others will change slowly (refugia).  Identifying both types of areas and monitoring the rate at which they are changing will be important. Extending models we have already developed for California and that are in development for the SJV we will identify the locations where we predict the greatest changes in climate, habitats, and bird communities.  The spatial extent of the project will include Bird Conservation Regions 34, 35, 36 and the results for all of AZ, NM and TX.  Large portions of Bird Conservation Region 34 are already being modeled through an ongoing project with the SJV and the proposed project will benefit from the time and effort PRBO and partners have spent compiling environmental and avian occurrence data as well as developing our initial models.
The work will leverage large investments made by PRBO and partners of the California Avian Data Center to apply existing cyber infrastructure and modeling approaches to this region.

Project Location

Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico

Project Deliverables

  1. Web portal where users can view predicted distributional changes in bird, habitat, and climate under future climate conditions.
  2. Web tool that can be used by managers to identifying climate change impacts and adaptation opportunities for wildlife populations and habitats using birds as indicators.
  3. Compile, document and curate the source data and the products generated as part of this proposal in the California Avian Data Center.
  4. Training on the use of the final products via one or more webinars