Olsen’s saltmarsh sparrow research cited in blog of PBS show ‘Nature’

Nature NOW, the blog of the PBS documentary show “Nature,” cited research conducted by Brian Olsen, an associate professor of biology and ecology at the University of Maine, in the post, “Can the saltmarsh sparrow keep its head above water?” According to the article, the tiny coastal bird is rapidly disappearing from the eastern United States because of changes to the coastal marshes they nest in. Increased flooding in these areas likely caused by development and sea-level rise seems to be causing the decline, the article states. Olsen and other researchers are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to gather information that could help protect the birds under the Endangered Species Act. “If it gets protected, it would be the first bird listed primarily due to things related to climate change,” Olsen said. Meanwhile, several research projects are looking into ways to manage the effects of sea-level rise, which could also result in the creation of new marshes. “Our projections right now have the birds at complete extinction within 30 to 50 years,” Olsen said. “If it takes 40 to 60 years to get a marsh ready, there 05 not be any birds left. That’s kind of a scary place to be.”