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Century-old field notes may help predict wildlife response to climate change

Many wildlifers know Professor A. W. Schorger as a former member of the [UW wildlife ecology] department (from 1951 to 1972) who wrote the definitive book on the natural history of the passenger pigeon and who left the department a generous endowment. Professor Emeritus Stan Temple has been formally archiving Schorger’s extensive collection of field journals and research notes, which have been stored in the department and little used since his death in 1972. Temple has also been extracting phenological records from Schorger’s field journals that go all the way back to 1908. When combined with the phenological records of Aldo Leopold (1935-1948), Nina Leopold Bradley (1976-present) and Temple’s own records (1976-present), they provide a remarkable 102-year record of the timing of seasonal events in south-central Wisconsin. Preliminary analyses of these data demonstrate that they can be used to develop models of how over 120 species of plants and animals are likely to respond to predicted changes in Wisconsin’s climate.

From the Spring 2011 FOREST AND WILDLIFE ECOLOGY NEWS

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