The collection and analysis of our breeding atlas data has been completed! Thanks to the hard work of over 200 volunteers, close to 20 biological technicians and dedicated statisticians and map-makers we have maps for all breeding species in the state. For many species, we have witnessed dramatic increases in distribution since the first atlas and our new abundance data sets show density hotspots in the state.
Take the following example of the Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus). Present in 77 atlas blocks during our first atlas (confirmed as a breeder in 20 blocks), this species has continued its northward expansion over the past 30-years. Now, the species is present in 155 atlas blocks and has been confirmed in 48.
Although now distributed throughout the state, further analysis of the data from 3,705 point counts conducted in the state has allowed us to create abundance maps that show clear density hotspots centered around the coastline and the bay. So, despite being distributed throughout the state, the population centers for this year-round species appear to be located in areas where the winter weather is moderated by water. Habitat analysis at points where Carolina Wrens were detected show that the species prefers early successional shrub land and open habitats associated with agriculture and human residential zones.
Want to see more?! We are in the process of writing species accounts for 173 breeding species in the state. Each account will include species breeding information specific to Rhode Island, maps of occurrence and change as well as current conservation status and predicted impacts from climate change. Along with the winter and migration atlas, we will be producing one of the most comprehensive bird atlases in North America!