Photo: Jim O'Neill
CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE FATE OF THE SALTMARSH SPARROW
The greatest threat to the survival of this species is loss of critical habitat. Nests are flooding due to sea level rise, secondary to global warming. As the marshes experience more frequent and higher-elevation flooding events, these ground-nesting birds cannot possibly alter their genetic blueprint in time to evolve a new nest-building strategy. They don't even have the option to migrate to higher ground within the marsh, as marshes are disappearing at an alarming rate. Please look at this summary of our work at Jacob's Point by Alex Kuffner in the Providence Journal: Against a rising tide, the saltmarsh sparrow could be headed for extinction.
Climate Change & Sea Level Rise
The interactions among carbon dioxide emissions, melting ice, rising sea levels, and habitat loss are complicated- yet measurable. The simple, un-politicized truth is that global warming is real and the dire consequences are now revealing themselves. There are many resources available to readers who are interested in increasing their ecological literacy. A brief video may be helpful to glean an overview: Climate Change Explained (opens in Youtube)
More on Saltmarsh Sparrows Threats
Planning for Sea-level Rise: Quantifying Patterns of Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammodramus Caudacutus) Nest Flooding Under Current Sea-level Conditions. Trina S. Bayard and Chris S. Elphick. The Auk Vol. 128, No. 2 (April 2011), pp. 393-403. DOI: 10.1525/auk.2011.10178