Lumpkin, H. A. 2011. Effects of climate and exurban development on bird species and nest predation in the southern Appalachians. MS Thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Climate and land-use change are likely to influence bird populations in the future; however, very little is known about the effects of both of these factors or about the mechanisms through which they may be acting. The Southern Appalachians are expected to experience warming and an expansion of exurban development in the future, and this region provides a unique environment in which to study the effects of both climate (along an elevation gradient) and exurban development on bird species and nest predation. In the first chapter I show that both climate and exurban development affect the occurrence of several bird species and that bird species responses to these two variables vary depending upon habitat preference, breeding range, and migration distance. Exurban development is likely to have an overall negative net impact on the bird community, and this impact is likely to be greater at high elevations where there is a greater abundance of interiorforest, Neotropical migrant species. Furthermore warming climates are likely to exacerbate these effects. In the second chapter I use an artificial nest predation experiment and predator surveys to show that nest predation may be an important mechanism through which climate and exurban development influence bird species. Warming climates in the Southern Appalachians may increase nest predation rates, and expanding exurban development may exacerbate these effects as a result of increased predation by domestic predators. Ground-nesting birds are at a higher risk for nest predation.