Climate Change

We examine impacts of climate change on wildlife population distributions and species ecology on local and global scales.

Trophic mismatch in Kodiak Brown Bears

On the Alaskan Kodiak Archipelago, warmer summers in recent years have led to changes in the timing of berry ripening (earlier onset) and salmon spawning (later onset), often resulting in an overlap of the availability of both resources which are usually more temporally distributed. The effects of this trophic mismatch are somewhat unknown for brown bears; however, observational data suggests brown bears may engage in prey switching behavior, favoring less energy dense berries over salmon. We are investigating this phenomenon through combined use of GPS collar data and isotope analysis of brown bear hair samples to estimate brown bear diet during summer and fall. The results of this work will aid in understanding impacts of warming climates and trophic mismatch of resources on brown bear ecology.

©Ashley Lutto

©Ashley Lutto

Plasticity of bear denning

In the wake of global climate change and range expansions of bears into previously occupied areas, understanding factors influencing den behavior can allow for better prediction of human-wildlife conflict, harvest management, and a more complete view of ecological and evolutionary processes. Using den entrance and duration data from 40 studies across North America, we demonstrated that black and brown bears follow an energy conservation strategy and alter den behavior based on their reproductive status and food availability.

Climate impacts on bird distributions

More information coming soon.