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Climate Change and Chickadees

July 25, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Climate Change and Chickadees

Changes in the geographic ranges and hybridization of chickadees, as a result of climate change

Dr. Bob Curry, The Curry Lab, Villanova University

According to the Department of Environmental Protection’s (http://www.dep.pa.gov/business/air/baq/climatechange/pages/default.aspx) report Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment Update (http://www.elibrary.dep.state.pa.us/dsweb/Get/Document-114163/FINAL%202015%20Climate%20Change%20Action%20Plan%20Update.pdf), human activity has already warmed Pennsylvania by 1.8 F. If trends continue, by mid-century Philadelphia area temperatures will be similar to historical temperatures in Richmond, VA and Pittsburgh temperatures will resemble historical temperatures in the Baltimore-Washington area. Under these changing conditions, birds (and others) may understandably relocate to find livable temperatures where they can survive and thrive.

As species move about, changing “neighborhoods” can lead to new interplays between species. A fascinating study from The Curry Lab (http://robertcurrylab.com/research/chickadee-hybridization/) uses the songs of local chickadees to research a hybrid zone that is moving. In an east-west region from NJ to Kansas, Carolina chickadees live in the south and black-capped chickadees live in the north, with a hybrid zone in between. This zone of hybridization has been moving north.

At our July meeting, Dr. Bob Curry will describe research spanning nearly two decades that investigates the patterns of change across the chickadee hybrid zone in southeastern Pennsylvania. Genetic information from four populations has revealed rapid shifts from mixed to nearly pure Carolina Chickadees at Nolde Forest (http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/noldeforest/) and from pure Black-capped Chickadees to mixed at Hawk Mountain (http://www.hawkmountain.org/). These local changes and a corresponding broad shift over the ranges of the two species match warming of winter conditions. Changes in hatching success (with hybrid eggs faring poorly) have followed the genetic shifts … as have patterns of song production, but in complex ways (including both “bilingual” birds and a “cultural lag”) that likely reflecting the important role of learning.

We hope you will join us at our July meeting for the captivating story of changes in the distribution, ecology, and behavior of local chickadees that reflect a changing climate.

The meeting is Tuesday, July 25, at 7:00 at TEKPark (9999 Hamilton Boulevard, Breinigsville, PA 18031, between Kutztown and Allentown). Meetings are free and open to the public. After the meeting, please plan to stick around and chat with friends old and new. Light snacks will be served. Hope to see you there!

The Curry Lab (http://robertcurrylab.com/research/chickadee-hybridization/) at Villanova University studies evolutionary, behavioral, and conservation ecology of passerine birds—including especially hybridizing chickadees (http://robertcurrylab.com/research/chickadee-hybridization/)—as well as ecology and behavior of herbivorous jumping spiders (yes, there is one such species). Lab head Bob Curry, teaches courses in ecology, animal behavior, tropical natural history, and conservation biology and supervises student research. His work is widely published in Wilson Journal of Ornithology, Evolution, Current Biology and many more.

For questions, contact Vera Cole, [masked] .

Need a gift…but don’t want to buy stuff?

If you’d like to make a donation to MAREA or buy someone a membership as a gift, let us know and we’ll handle the acknowledgement thoughtfully, by email or paper mail, with your input. Drop us a note at [masked] . And remember, all new memberships get a free copy of the DVD, “Saving Sunshine (https://www.themarea.org/saving-sunshine.shtml)”!

Free DVD with MAREA membership (https://www.themarea.org/join.shtml) While supplies last, all new and renewing MAREA members will receive a free copy of “Saving Sunshine, Keeping the Lights on with Batteries and Solar Power,” the 30-minute DVD produced by MAREA this year with funding from the Berks Community Foundation and distributed by Bullfrog Films. It’s terrific film, offering an interesting and easily understood explanation of the electricity grid and distribution generation, especially the role of batteries with solar. MAREA is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Donations and memberships are how we keep the lights on. You can join at the meeting or anytime online (https://www.themarea.org/join.shtml). Thanks for your help.


July 25, 2017
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:


TEK Park
9999 Hamilton Blvd.
Breinigsville, PA 18031 us


Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (eastern PA)