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A data-rich study of bird ecology by University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers provides new evidence of climate change for our region. Researchers analyzed the ecosystem locations for more than 400 bird species from Texas to the Dakotas over a 46-year period. The various ecosystems, they found, have been moving northward — more than 365 miles since 1970 for the northernmost boundary.

The positive news is that the data indicate that the changes “are much more ordered and predictable than previously thought,” UNL reported. “If we can work toward prevention (of changes), we’re going to save ourselves so much money and time” by focusing on specific ecosystem needs, said Caleb Roberts, a UNL postdoctoral researcher who was the lead author on the study.

The findings come in the wake of last year’s National Climate Assessment, which said that the northern Great Plains are expected to see higher overall temperatures as the century moves forward, with significant changes in evaporation rates, soil moisture and groundwater levels.

The proper way forward is practical collaboration across a range of Midlanders including agricultural producers, climate scientists, natural resources managers, businesses and utilities. Cooperation and planning are the keys to sound adaption.

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