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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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The Cranes

Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan

Threats: Other Environmental Factors

Abiotic factors play an important role in both the short-term and long-term fate of cranes, especially in cases involving the effect of stochastic events on small or concentrated populations. Storms and other weather events can have important, and sometimes catastrophic, effects on crane populations (Merrill 1961, Tacha and Vohs 1984, Johnson and Barnes 1991). Drought not only dries up wetland breeding areas, but can lower production of young birds by reducing food supplies and increasing the vulnerability of nests and chicks to predation (Neumann 1991, Kuyt et al. 1992). Drought may also increase the pressure to expand agricultural production into wetland areas. Fires can pose a significant threat when young cranes are present (Allan 1990, Windingstad 1988, Johnson and Barnes 1991, S. Smirenski pers. comm.). Finally, the climatic changes predicted under most global warming scenarios would have profound impacts on existing crane habitats.
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