Landscape Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 187–200 | Cite as

Between a rock and a hard place: the impacts of climate change and housing development on breeding birds in California

  • Dennis Jongsomjit
  • Diana Stralberg
  • Thomas Gardali
  • Leonardo Salas
  • John Wiens
Research Article


Although the effects of climate change on species distributions have received considerable attention, land-use change continues to threaten wildlife by contributing to habitat loss and degradation. We compared projected spatial impacts of climate change and housing development across a range of housing densities on California’s birds to evaluate the relative potential impacts of each. We used species-distribution models in concert with current and future climate projections and spatially explicit housing-development density projections in California. We compared their potential influence on the distributions of 64 focal bird species representing six major vegetation communities. Averaged across GCMs, species responding positively to climate change were projected to gain 253,890 km2 and species responding negatively were projected to lose 335,640 km2. Development accounted for 32 % of the overall reductions in projected species distributions. In terms of land area, suburban and exurban development accounted for the largest portion of land-use impacts on species’ distributions. Areas in which climatic suitability and housing density were both projected to increase were concentrated along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and areas of the north coast. Areas of decreasing climatic suitability and increasing housing density were largely concentrated within the Central Valley. Our analyses suggest that the cumulative effects of future housing development and climate change will be large for many bird species, and that some species projected to expand their distributions with climate change may actually lose ground to development. This suggests that a key climate change adaptation strategy will be to minimize the impacts of housing development. To do this effectively, comprehensive policies to guide land use decisions are needed at the broader scales of climate change.


California Exurban development Generalized additive models Land-use change Species distribution models Urbanization 



Data collection was funded by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game. The Nature Conservancy, the Marin Municipal Water District, The Presidio Trust, and the CALFED Bay-Delta Program. An anonymous donor, the Faucett Family Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife California Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and the National Science Foundation (DBI-0542868) supported the research. D. Stralberg was supported by doctoral scholarships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the University of Alberta, and the Alberta Ingenuity Fund. We thank M. Snyder (UCSC) for the regional climate models, B. Bierwagen for access to the land-use models, and C.J. Ralph (RSL), J. Alexander (KBO), and the North American Breeding Bird Survey for access to and help with data, and countless PRBO biologists and staff for data collection. We are grateful to M. Fitzgibbon, D. Moody, and S. Veloz for help with data preparation and analysis, and to T. Root for inspiring this research. We appreciate the comments provided by G. Ballard, M. Araújo, J. Elith, E. Gustafson, and anonymous reviewers, which greatly improved this paper. This is PRBO contribution #1746.

Supplementary material

10980_2012_9825_MOESM1_ESM.docx (39 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 38 kb)


  1. Ballard G, Herzog M, Fitzgibbon M, Moody M, Jongsomjit D, Stralberg D (2008) The California Avian Data Center, Petaluma, California. Accessed June 2008
  2. Barbet-Massin M, Thuiller W, Jiguet F (2012) The fate of European breeding birds under climate, land-use and dispersal scenarios. Glob Chang Biol 18:881–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beardsley K, Thorne JH, Roth NE, Gao S, McCoy MC (2009) Assessing the influence of rapid urban growth and regional policies on biological resources. Landsc Urban Plan 93:172–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blair RB (1996) Land use and avian species diversity along an urban gradient. Ecol Appl 6:506–519Google Scholar
  5. Blair R (2004) The effects of urban sprawl on birds at multiple levels of biological organization. Ecol Soc 9. Accessed July 2012
  6. Bomhard B, Richardson DM, Donaldson JS, Hughes GO, Midgley GF et al (2005) Potential impacts of future land use and climate change on the Red List status of the Proteaceae in the Cape Floristic region, South Africa. Glob Chang Biol 11:1452–1468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brook B, Sodhi N, Bradshaw C (2008) Synergies among extinction drivers under global change. Trends Ecol Evol 23:453–460PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burchell R, Lowenstein G, Dolphin W, Galley C, Downs A, Seskin S, Still K, Moore T (2002) Cost of Sprawl-2000. TCRP report 74. National Academy Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  9. Chace JF, Walsh JJ (2006) Urban effects on native avifauna: a review. Landsc Urban Plan 74:46–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chapin FI, Carpenter SR, Kofinas GP, Folke C, Abel N, Clark WC, Olsson P, Smith DMS, Walker B, Young OR (2010) Ecosystem stewardship: sustainability strategies for a rapidly changing planet. Trends Ecol Evol 25:241–249PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chase M, Geupel GR (2005) The use of avian focal species for conservation planning in California. In: Bird conservation implementation and integration in the Americas: Proceedings of the third international partners in flight conference, General technical report PSW-GTR-191, pp 130–142Google Scholar
  12. Crooks KR, Suarez AV, Bolger DT, Soulé ME (2001) Extinction and colonization of birds on habitat islands. Conserv Biol 15:159–172Google Scholar
  13. Daly C, Neilson RP, Phillips DL (1994) A statistical-topographic model for mapping climatological precipitation over mountainous terrain. J Appl Meteorol 33:140–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Danielsen KA, Lang RE, Fulton W (1999) Retracting suburbia: smart growth and the future of housing. House Policy Debate 10:513–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davies RG, Orme CDL, Olson V, Thomas GH, Ross SG, Ding T-S, Rasmussen PC, Stattersfield AJ, Bennett PM, Blackburn TM, Owens IPF, Gaston KJ (2006) Human impacts and the global distribution of extinction risk. Proc Biol Sci 273:2127–2133PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davis FW, Stoms DM, Hollander AD, Thomas KA, Stine PA, Odion D, Borchert MI, Thorne JH, Gray MV, Walker RE, Warner K, Graae J (1998) The California gap analysis project: final report. University of California, Santa Barbara, CAGoogle Scholar
  17. de Chazal J, Rounsevell MDA (2009) Land-use and climate change within assessments of biodiversity change: a review. Glob Environ Chang 19:306–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Desrochers RE, Kerr JT, Currie DJ (2011) How, and how much, natural cover loss increases species richness. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 20:857–867CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dirnböck T, Dullinger S, Grabherr G (2003) A regional impact assessment of climate and land-use change on alpine vegetation. J Biogeogr 30:401–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. U.S. EPA (2009) Land-use scenarios: National-scale housing-density scenarios consistent with climate change storylines (final report). EPA/600/R-08/076f. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USAGoogle Scholar
  21. ESRI (2006) ArcGIS 9.2. Environmental Systems Research Institute. Redlands, California, USAGoogle Scholar
  22. Fielding AH, Bell JF (1997) A review of methods for the assessment of prediction errors in conservation presence/absence models. Environ Conserv 24:38–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fitzpatrick MC, Hargrove WW (2009) The projection of species distribution models and the problem of non-analog climate. Biodivers Conserv 18:2255–2261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Forister ML, McCall AC, Sanders NJ, Fordyce JA, Thorne JH, O’Brien J, Waetjen DP, Shapiro AM (2010) Compounded effects of climate change and habitat alteration shift patterns of butterfly diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:2088–2092PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fraterrigo JM, Wiens JA (2005) Bird communities of the Colorado Rocky Mountains along a gradient of exurban development. Landsc Urban Plan 71:263–275Google Scholar
  26. Guisan A, Theurillat J (2000) Assessing alpine plant vulnerability to climate change: a modeling perspective. Integr Assess 1:307–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hammer RB, Radeloff VC, Fried JS, Stewart SI (2007) Wildland-urban interface housing growth during the 1990s in California, Oregon, and Washington. Int J Wildland Fire 16:255–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hansen A, Urban D (1992) Avian response to landscape pattern: the role of species’ life histories. Landscape Ecol 7:163–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hansen A, Knight R, Marzluff J, Powell S, Brown K, Gude P, Jones K (2005) Effects of exurban development on biodiversity: patterns, mechanisms, and research needs. Ecol Appl 15:1893–1905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Harris RJ, Reed JM (2002) Behavioral barriers to non-migratory movements of birds. Ann Zool Fenn 39:275–290Google Scholar
  31. Hastie T, Tibshirani R (1990) Generalized additive models. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  32. Heller NE, Zavaleta ES (2009) Biodiversity management in the face of climate change: a review of 22 years of recommendations. Biol Conserv 142:14–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hill JK, Collingham YC, Thomas CD, Blakeley DS, Fox R, Moss D, Huntley B (2001) Impacts of landscape structure on butterfly range expansion. Ecol Lett 4:313–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: synthesis report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental panel on climate change. Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  35. Jetz W, Wilcove DS, Dobson AP (2007) Projected impacts of climate and land-use change on the global diversity of birds. PLoS Biol 5:1211–1219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Johnston RF (2001) Synanthropic birds of North America. In: Marzluff JM, Bowman R, Donnelly R (eds) Avian ecology in an urbanizing world. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, pp 49–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Johnston RA, Lehmer E, Gao S, Roth N, McCoy M, (2008) UPlan land use allocation model 2.6 user’s manual. Accessed 20 August 2012
  38. La Sorte FA, McKinney ML (2007) Compositional changes over space and time along an occurrence-abundance continuum: anthropogenic homogenization of the North American avifauna. J Biogeogr 34:2159–2167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lepczyk CA, Flather CH, Radeloff VC, Pidgeon AM, Hammer RB, Liu J (2008) Human impacts on regional avian diversity and abundance. Conserv Biol 22:405–416PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mackenzie DI, Nichols JD, Lachman GB, Droege S, Andrew Royle J, Langtimm CA (2003) Estimating site occupancy rates when detection probabilities are less than one. Ecology 8:2248–2255Google Scholar
  41. Marzluff JM, Bowman R, Donnelly R (2001) Avian ecology and conservation in an urbanizing world. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, Massachusetts, USAGoogle Scholar
  42. McKinney ML (2002) Urbanization, biodiversity, and conservation. Bioscience 52:883–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Merenlender AM, Reed SE, Heise KL (2009) Exurban development influences woodland bird composition. Landsc Urban Plan 92:255–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Midgley G, Hannah L, Millar D, Rutherford M, Powrie L (2002) Assessing the vulnerability of species richness to anthropogenic climate change in a biodiversity hotspot. Global Ecol Biogeogr 11:445–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Ecosystems and human wellbeing: biodiversity synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC. Accessed February 2012
  46. Myers N, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB, Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853–858PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pal JS, Giorgi F, Bi X, Elguindi N, Solmon F, Gao X, Rauscher SA, Francisco R, Zakey A, Winter J, Ashfaq M, Syed FS, Bell JL, Diffenbaugh NS, Karmacharya J, Konaré A, Martinez D, Da Rocha RP, Sloan LC, Steiner AL (2007) Regional climate modeling for the developing world: the ICTP RegCM3 and RegCNET. B Am Meteorol Soc 88:1395–1409Google Scholar
  48. Peterson AT, Ortega-Huerta MA, Bartley J, Sanchez-Cordero V, Soberón J, Buddemeier RH, Stockwell DRB (2002) Future projections for Mexican faunas under global climate change scenarios. Nature 41:626–629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pidgeon AM, Radeloff VC, Flather CH, Lepczyk CA, Clayton MK, Hawbaker TJ, Hammer RB (2007) Associations of forest bird species richness with housing and landscape patterns across the USA. Ecol Appl 17:1989–2010PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pompe S, Hanspach J, Badeck F, Klotz S, Thuiller W, Kühn I (2008) Climate and land use change impacts on plant distributions in Germany. Biol Lett 4:564–567PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Poole A (ed) (2009) The birds of North America online. Cornell laboratory of ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. Accessed August 2009
  52. Pyke CR (2004) Habitat loss confounds climate change impacts. Front Ecol Environ 2:178–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. R Development Core Team (2010) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  54. Radeloff VC, Hammer RB, Stewart SI, Fried JS, Holcomb SS, McKeefry JF (2005) The wildland-urban interface in the United States. Ecol Appl 15:799–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Radeloff VC, Stewart SI, Hawbaker TJ, Gimmi U, Pidgeon AM, Flather CH, Hammer RB, Helmers DP (2010) Housing growth in and near United States protected areas limits their conservation value. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:940–945PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Reif J, Št’astný K, Bejček V (2010) Contrasting effects of climatic and habitat changes on birds with northern range limits in central Europe as revealed by an analysis of breeding bird distribution in the Czech Republic. Acta Ornithol 45:83–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sala OE, Chapin FS 3rd, Armesto JJ, Berlow E, Bloomfield J, Dirzo R, Huber-Sanwald E, Huenneke LF, Jackson RB, Kinzig A, Leemans R, Lodge DM, Mooney HA, Oesterheld M, Poff NL, Sykes MT, Walker BH, Walker M, Wall DH (2000) Global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100. Science 287:1770–1774PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sauer J, Hines J, Fallon J (2008) The North American breeding bird survey results and analysis 1966–2007. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Maryland, USAGoogle Scholar
  59. Sokolov AP, Stone PH, Forest CE, Prinn R, Sarofim MC, Webster M, Paltsev S, Schlosser CA, Kicklighter D, Dutkiewicz S, Reilly J, Wang C, Felzer B, Melillo J, Jacoby HD (2009) Probabilistic forecast for twenty-first-century climate based on uncertainties in emissions (without policy) and climate parameters. J Clim 22:5175–5204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Spencer WD, Beier P, Penrod K, Winters K, Paulman C, Rustigian-Romsos H, Strittholt J, Parisi M, Pettler A (2010) California essential habitat connectivity project: a strategy for conserving a connected California. Report to the California Department of Transportation, California Department of Fish and Game, and Federal Highway AdministrationGoogle Scholar
  61. State of California (2007) Population projections for California and its counties 2000–2050. Department of Finance, Sacramento, California, USA. Accessed August 2009
  62. Stralberg D, Williams B (2002) Effects of residential development and landscape composition on the breeding birds of Placer County’s foothill oak woodlands. General technical report, PSW-GTR-184. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Berkeley, California, USA.
  63. Stralberg D, Jongsomjit D, Howell CA, Snyder MA, Alexander J, Wiens J, Root T (2009) Re-shuffling of species with climate disruption: a no-analog future for California birds? PLoS One 4(9):e6825. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006825 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Swets J (1988) Measuring the accuracy of diagnostic systems. Science 240:1285–1293PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Theobald DM (2001) Land-use dynamics beyond the American urban fringe. Geogr Rev 91:544–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Theobald DM (2005) Landscape patterns of exurban growth in the USA from 1980 to 2020. Ecol Soc 10. Accessed August 2012
  67. Theobald DM, Miller JR, Hobbs NT (1997) Estimating the cumulative effects of development on wildlife habitat. Landsc Urban Plan 39:25–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Thomas CD, Cameron A, Green RE, Bakkenes M, Beaumont LJ, Collingham YC, Erasmus BFN, De Siqueira MF, Grainger A, Hannah L, Hughes L, Huntley B, Van Jaarsveld AS, Midgley GF, Miles L, Ortega-Huerta MA, Peterson AT, Phillips OL, Williams SE (2004) Extinction risk from climate change. Nature 427:145–148Google Scholar
  69. Travis JMJ (2003) Climate change and habitat destruction: a deadly anthropogenic cocktail. Proc Roy Soc B Biol Sci 270:467–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. U.S. Department of the Interior (2009) Addressing the impacts of climate change on America’s water, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Secretarial Order No. 3289.
  71. Warren MS, Hill JK, Thomas JA, Asher J, Fox R, Huntley B, Roy DB, Telfer MG, Jeffcoate S, Harding P, Jeffcoate G, Willis SG, Greatorex-Davies JN, Moss D, Thomas CD (2001) Rapid responses of British butterflies to opposing forces of climate and habitat change. Nature 414:65–69PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Whittingham MJ, Stephens PA, Bradbury RB, Freckleton RP (2006) Why do we still use stepwise modeling in ecology and behaviour? J Anim Ecol 75:1182–1189PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wiens J, Stralberg D, Jongsomjit D, Howell CA, Snyder MA (2009) Niches, models, and climate change: assessing the assumptions and uncertainties. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:19729–19736PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wiens JA, Seavy NE, Jongsomjit D (2011) Protected areas in climate space: what will the future bring? Biol Conserv 144:2119–2125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wilcove DS, Rothstein D, Dubow J, Phillips A, Losos E (1998) Quantifying threats to imperiled species in the United States. Bioscience 48:607–615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Zeiner D, Laudenslayer W Jr, Mayer K, White M (eds) (1988) California’s Wildlife. California Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento, California, USAGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis Jongsomjit
    • 1
  • Diana Stralberg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas Gardali
    • 1
  • Leonardo Salas
    • 1
  • John Wiens
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.PRBO Conservation SciencePetalumaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.School of Plant BiologyUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

Personalised recommendations