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How climate change affects birds

David Luther, assistant professor in biology, received funding on behalf of Shawn Smith, a doctoral candidate in Mason's environmental science and public policy program, for the study: “An Investigation into the Effects of Climate Change and Land Use Change on Avian Populations.” 

The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of climate change and land use change on bird populations across Northern Virginia.   

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia has been conducting standardized point count surveys across Northern Virginia since 1994. Smith will use the results of these surveys to estimate population changes in more than 100 avian species. He hypothesizes that increased temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, and decreases in forested habitats have led to population declines for most species of birds.

Smith will prepare a 15-minute presentation that can be used at both the Annual Meeting of The Virginia Chapter of The Wildlife Society and the Annual American Ornithological Society meeting.

The expected outcomes of this project could have far-reaching implications that will certainly be of interest outside the Northern Virginia area. Smith expects to submit this study for publication to a scientific journal during Spring 2024.

Luther received $4,800 from J.F. Environmental Trust Foundation for this project. Funding began in January 2024 and will end in late December 2024.