It is important to study climate change’s impacts on biodiversity in order to find a solution before the effects on wildlife are irreversible. Our research objective for this project was to determine if climate change affected long-term bird trends in urban and rural areas throughout Kansas. Our hypothesis was that climate change will decrease bird abundance and species richness because altered climate patterns like storms, droughts, and heat waves, may cause a decrease in suitable habitat. We would expect these trends to be strongest in cities, due to the urban heat island effect. The methods used for this project included downloading Bird Breeding Survey (BBS) data and average temperature for the month of June for five locations throughout Kansas. We collected data from 1970 to 2015. To determine the relationship between temperature and bird abundance and species richness, we conducted correlation analyses. All locations’ bird communities had variable relationships with temperature. Most cities had weak negative relationships between temperature and species richness and abundance. However, one rural town, Kanopolis, had a strong positive correlation between temperature and bird abundance. We also found differences in community composition across urban and rural BBS sampling locations. For example, we found more urban adaptor and exploiter species, like European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and house sparrows (Passer domesticus) in Olathe, as compared to urban avoider species in rural towns, like eastern meadowlarks (Sturnella magna). Overall, climate change impacts might vary throughout different locations due to levels of urbanization, habitat availability, and other abiotic factors.
Williams, Lindsey and Brodsky, Christine, "Climate Change Impacts on Bird Communities Vary Throughout Cities in Kansas" (2019). Posters. 63.