An article co-authored by Assistant Professor of Biology Andrea Townsend was recently published in Global Change Biology. “The interacting effects of food, spring temperature, and global climate cycles on population dynamics of a migratory songbird” describes how the effects of warming springs, caterpillar abundance and El Niño events affect black-throated blue warbler populations in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
According to Townsend, the research results are unusual because they show that “warming springs actually have a positive effect on populations of this species, but only when local caterpillar density is high. These results contrast with most migratory bird studies, which generally indicate a negative effect of warming temperatures.” She cautions that these patterns might not hold as temperatures continue to increase.
Researchers from Wellesley College, the Smithsonian Institute, Cornell University and Dartmouth College also contributed to the article.