Status: Ongoing

Climate change has caused warming of up to four times the global average in northern terrestrial environments. Impacts on species are multifaceted, complex, and poorly understood. The main objective of this multi-scale and long-term project is to describe and quantify habitat, climate, and land use variables potentially contributing to historical and projected declines of vulnerable long-distance migratory and aerial insectivorous birds.  Breeding birds are monitored at nest sites annually for breeding success, phenology, and preferred food habits. Food availability and phenology is assessed using a combination of insect transects, aerial insect traps, and observations of adult birds feeding young. Insects are captured using aerial Malaise traps and later sorted and identified to Order and measured for biomass at Yukon University. Transects are also walked (50 m) on bird territories to count large insects such as dragonflies that avoid aerial traps. Predator-prey modelling procedures help quantify seasonal relationships between targeted insects and breeding birds. Results may continue to support a hypothesis of asynchrony between birds and insect prey resulting from warming climates, especially spring temperatures. Results from this project are used to inform instruction of science courses at Yukon University, provide students with examples from original research, as well as provide employment and valuable experience to students keen to assist with the project. Results will have conservation and management relevance for these and other vulnerable species on impacts from climate change and habitat degradation in northern habitats.

Partners and funders
  • YukonU Scholarly Activity