Global warming causes trees and birds to migrate north

Chickadee. Photo by William C. Gladish.

Two studies put out within days of each other emphasize the importance of our public lands as habitat for wildlife. On Feb. 9, the National Geographic reported on a new study by the U.S. Forest Service that documents trees migrating northward. According to the National Geographic:

“Other than the Ents of Lord of the Rings fame, trees generally aren't known for their mobility. So news that some tree species may be headed north at an average clip of 62 miles (100 kilometers) a century may come as a surprise …

‘The finding confirms a link between global warming and forest migration,’ said lead study author Chris Woodall, of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station in St. Paul, Minnesota.”

In a second report, released a day later, the National Audubon Society documents that birds are keeping pace with the trees, moving not only northward but inland.

According to an Associated Press story:

“An Audubon Society study…found that more than half of 305 bird species in North America, a hodgepodge that includes robins, gulls, chickadees and owls, are spending the winter about 35 miles farther north than they did 40 years ago.”

The report adds that “bird ranges can expand and shift for many reasons, among them urban sprawl, deforestation and the supplemental diet provided by backyard feeders. But researchers say the only explanation for why so many birds over such a broad area are wintering in more northern locales is global warming.”

Check out Wilderness Society research that predicts how changing temperatures and precipitation could affect animals in Alaska.

photo: Chickadee. Photo by William C. Gladish.