Combining Remote-Sensing and Biological Data to Predict the Consequences of Climate Change on Hummingbird Diversity

Project Description
Scientists are challenged to predict how species will respond to continued environmental change in order to mitigate or manage its influences, yet we know little about how the majority of species will respond to these changes. This lack of knowledge limits our ability to predict species responses and manage them in the context of future threats. We propose to combine time-series data for hummingbirds with climate and remote sensing data to evaluate what changes have occurred in hummingbird populations. We will investigate variation in hummingbird resources and hummingbird physiological responses to different environmental conditions to start to determine why these changes might have occurred. Finally, we will predict how species, phylogenetic and functional diversity might be influenced by climate changes. Hummingbirds, a diverse monophyletic family of birds, provide an ideal system for evaluating the effects of environmental changes on biological diversity because birds are highly sensitive to climate and weather and are pioneer indicators of climate change and because as pollinators, their ecology, physiology, and movement patterns are closely related to the distribution, phenology, and abundance of their nectar plants and any change in their nectar availability will directly influence their distributions and abundance. Integration of coupled time series data sets with species specific biological data to predict how environmental change will influence population persistence requires the use of several different modeling approaches. We will use classical statistical niche models, physiologically informed ecological niche models, Bayesian population models and plant-animal network models to evaluate the relationship between environmental data and biological data and to predict how environmental change will influence population persistence of hummingbirds. Finally, we will collaborate closely with the Hummingbird Monitoring Network and its partners that work in collaboration with the US Forest Service’s "Wings Across the Americas" program under the auspices of the Western Hummingbird Partnership. Therefore, we will engage conservation scientists in our research and make our results available for management applications. In sum, we will address the NASA goals and objectives with respect to Earth science, i.e. to distinguish natural from human-induced causes of change and to understand and predict the consequences of change, as well as the specific objectives of this call. Our proposed research will present an integrated framework of how to link different types of data to predict how environmental change will influence biological diversity. The proposed work has broad societal relevance given the widespread concerns about biodiversity decline with environmental change. Project PI: Catherine Graham/Stony Brook University Department of Ecology & Evolution Stony Brook University,636, Life Science Building 6th Floor Phone: (631) 632-1962 Email:
Project Administrator(s):
Cristina Milesi


Cristina Milesi