Songbird Superhighway – B. Olsen

 Migration is a sensitive period in the life cycle of many bird species, accounting for as much as 80-90% of the mortality that occur over the year.   Despite this, birds show great apparent adaptability in their specific routes of movement, as the migratory behaviors of today’s boreal forest birds did not exist merely 10,000 years ago.   To understand how species have adapted to past climate changes and to predict their ability to survive current landscape changes, we are studying birds as they migrate along and across the Gulf of Maine each fall at a series of stations with a collaborative team of US and Canadian researchers.   Local weather events are critical for successful migration over open water, even more so than over land.   The impacts of past and current changes in the region’s climate have dramatic consequences for regional weather systems, and these changes in turn determine the viability of specific migratory routes.   Furthermore, birds depend on high quality habitat en route to minimize the dangers of migration.   The location and quality of these “stop-over habitats” have changed dramatically during past periods of climate change and will do so in the future. We are investigating the habitat use of birds in migration to determine their capacity for adaptation in the future.


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