Lisa Sorenson


Research Assistant Professor of Biology and Co-Chair, West Indian Whistling-Duck
Working Group of the Society of Caribbean Ornithology

Conservation Biology, Behavioral Ecology, and Hormonal Mechanisms of
Behavior in Birds


My current research addresses the potential
effects of global warming on wetlands and waterfowl breeding in the Prairie
Pothole Region (PPR) of the Northern Great Plains, the most important
breeding area for waterfowl in North America. As the climate warms due
to rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2 from anthropogenic burning
of fossil fuels, it is important to assess the probable impacts of this
warming on this vital wetland ecosystem and wildlife resource.

Using data from annual spring counts of
wetlands and breeding duck populations conducted since 1955, I am examining
the historical relationship between climate conditions and the number
of wetlands and breeding ducks. Working with climatologists at Goddard
Institute for Space Studies, I am using this relationship to project future
pond and duck numbers under climate change based on climate values generated
from sensitivity analyses and General Circulation Model (GCM) scenarios.
My work includes an analysis of the sensitivity of individual waterfowl
species to global warming as well as an assessment of which regions in
the PPR may be most vulnerable to damage from climate change, results
that will aid managers in planning mitigation and conservation strategies.

I am also interested in Caribbean ornithology
and am actively involved in avian and wetlands conservation efforts in
the region. I am coordinating the “The West Indian Whistling-Duck
and Wetlands Conservation Project”, a region-wide public education
and awareness program and population surveys for the endangered West Indian
Whistling-Duck and the importance of wetlands in general.