A life-history spectrum of population responses to simultaneous change in climate and land use

Frances E. Buderman, James H. Devries, David N. Koons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate and land use change are two of the primary threats to global biodiversity; however, each species within a community may respond differently to these facets of global change. Although it is typically assumed that species use the habitat that is advantageous for survival and reproduction, anthropogenic changes to the environment can create ecological traps, making it critical to assess both habitat selection (e.g. where species congregate on the landscape) and the influence of selected habitats on the demographic processes that govern population dynamics. We used a long-term (1958–2011), large-scale, multi-species dataset for waterfowl that spans the United States and Canada to estimate species-specific responses to climate and land use variables in a landscape that has undergone significant environmental change across space and time. We first estimated the effects of change in climate and land use variables on habitat selection and population dynamics for nine species. We then hypothesized that species-specific responses to environmental change would scale with life-history traits, specifically: longevity, nesting phenology and female breeding site fidelity. We observed species-level heterogeneity in the demographic and habitat selection responses to climate and land use change, which would complicate community-level habitat management. Our work highlights the importance of multi-species monitoring and community-level analysis, even among closely related species. We detected several relationships between life-history traits, particularly nesting phenology, and species' responses to environmental change. One species, the early-nesting northern pintail (Anas acuta), was consistently at the extreme end of responses to land use and climate predictors and has been a species of conservation concern since their population began to decline in the 1980s. They, and the blue-winged teal, also demonstrated a positive habitat selection response to the proportion of cropland on the landscape that simultaneously reduced abundance the following year, indicative of susceptibility to ecological traps. By distilling the diversity of species' responses to environmental change within a community, our methodological approach and findings will help improve predictions of community responses to global change and can inform multi-species management and conservation plans in dynamic landscapes that are based on simple tenets of life-history theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1267-1284
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'A life-history spectrum of population responses to simultaneous change in climate and land use'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this