Biodiversity Research Institute
Biodiversity Research Institute
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Climate Change Program
Climate Change Program

BRI's mission is to assess emerging threats to wildlife and ecosystems through collaborative research, and to use scientific findings to advance environmental awareness and inform decision makers.

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Climate change has become the most pervasive threat to nature and people. More than ever, sound science is needed to increase our understanding of the challenges that climate change raises for humanity, and inform the critical decisions that must be made by society.

BRI believes that with good information, people can make great decisions. That is why BRI is advancing four priority areas (highlighted, below) to increase understanding about climate change and its impacts on wildlife, and through this wildlife-lens better inform decision making.

Program Director:
Tim Tear, Ph.D.

Collective Research Empowers Deeper Understanding

BRI's history of collaborative research and conservation initiatives extends from local to global scales. Our Climate Change Program combines the resources of other BRI programs to carry out studies that cross species lines and geographic boundaries. The strength of our collective work contributes to the ongoing dialogue about climate change and helps to inform the actions that are needed to address it. 

 

The impacts of climate change are evident in ecosystems from pole to pole - tropical to arctic. BRI's overarching Research Centers, and the array of programs carried out under them, provide broad-reaching research resources and capabilities to study climate change. 

For more information on each of our Research Centers, follow these links.

Center for Ecology and Conservation Research

Center for Waterbird Studies

Center for Mercury Studies

 

BRI's Climate Change Program Priorities are:

 

1 - Improving Information Necessary for Environmentally-sound Renewable Energy Decisions

1 - Improving Information Necessary for Environmentally-sound Renewable Energy Decisions

Renewable energy has become a primary means of addressing climate change. As renewable energy development surges, BRI has been and continues to be a powerful resource for assessing the impacts of renewable energy on wildlife. Our research informs agencies and developers to make environmentally sound decisions with regard to the siting and operation of renewable energy installations.

Careful siting of renewable energy development can play a key role in minimizing impacts to wildlife, and this requires detailed knowledge of animals’ migratory movements, habitat needs, and other life history information. To address this need, BRI established our Wildlife and Renewable Energy Program

BRI continues to provide critical information on wildlife necessary to make the most informed decisions to support environmentally-sound renewable energy decisions.  To better understand how BRI carries out this work, see our work on offshore wind in New Yorkin the Great Lakes, and in the Mid-Atlantic 

BRI uses the latest advances in technology to obtain the most relevant information, such as Hi-Def Imaging to monitor large areas of the ocean, and using new quantitative lab methods to assess predator-prey relationships. BRI is actively engaged in similar assessments of Solar Energy and Hydroelectric Energy.

Please see a recent example of BRIs research on Assessing Cumulative Exposure of Northern Gannets to Offshore Wind Farms to better understand our work.

2 - Conducting Long-Term Collaborative Studies to understand Wildlife Responses to Climate Change

2 - Conducting Long-Term Collaborative Studies to understand Wildlife Responses to Climate Change

BRI’s focus on wildlife serves as a window to the world of climate change: we view a changing climate by observing and understanding changes in wildlife.

For BRI to view climate change through the lens of wildlife, long-term studies are of great importance because the longer the temporal scope of a study, the better we can discern changes over time. Unfortunately, long-term studies on wildlife are rare. The few - and critical - ongoing studies give us important insights that other shorter-term studies can’t. Examples of BRIs commitment to long-term studies – through collaboration and persistence - are highlighted, below.

Also, please see the list of our partners to understand BRI's extensive network, and contact us if you would like to be a part of it.

  • BRI's Loon Program – The hallmark of BRIs work, this collaborative effort has been studying loon species across the Northern Hemisphere for three decades. This includes exciting new successful loon restoration efforts that increase the loons’ ability to persist in a climate-changing world.

  • BRIs Arctic Program In the face of climate change, the conservation of Arctic ecosystems is one of the greatest ecological and political challenges of our time. BRI has established an Arctic Program to contribute to this effort through participation in collaborative research and conservation initiatives designed to identify new and emerging stressors and to inform stakeholders and policymakers about our science.


  • Supporters, Collaborators, and Affiliations – It is only through the breadth, depth, and strength of our network that BRI can accomplish its goals, particularly in sustaining long-term studies that are expensive and difficult to sustain over time.
3 - Understanding Environmental Stressors and the Sensitivity of Ecosystems to Climate Change

3 - Understanding Environmental Stressors and the Sensitivity of Ecosystems to Climate Change

One way BRI works to better to understand the sensitivity of ecosystems to climate change is by investigating how ecosystems are impacted by other environmental stressors over time. BRI has spearheaded multiple efforts, including:


  • Highlighting the Importance of Restoration and Reintroduction: In order to address decades of contamination and loss of range for the common loon in the Northeast United States, BRI has launched an ambitious reintroduction effort that will help to  restore the call of the wild

  • Discovering critical insights from Sensitive Sentinel Species: Through extensive and prolonged collaborative research efforts, BRI has lead the way to discovering the critical importance of songbirds as sensitive sentinel species that help understand the complexities of food webs to understand the impact of mercury on ecosystems.
4 - Providing Cutting-edge Science to Inform Societal Decisions about Climate Change

4 - Providing Cutting-edge Science to Inform Societal Decisions about Climate Change

BRI has invested in building sound and diverse science capacity that harnesses the latest in cutting-edge tools and methods needed for understanding climate change impacts to wildlife.  For examples of BRI’s robust science capacity,  have a look at some of our ecological modeling efforts and use of new technology to generate comprehensive ecological assessments.

 

 
 
Photo Credits: Header photo © Shutterstock - Ginger Polina Bublik; Wind turbines © iStock; Peregrine Falcon with Backpack © BRI - Alex Dalton; Common Loon on nest with chick © Bill Hanson
Biodiversity Research Institute