2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Using Citizen Science to Examine the Range Expansion of Bewick's Wren and Lesser Goldfinch into Idaho

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Heidi Ware Carlisle


Animal species are known to change or expand their range in order to adapt to changes in habitat, niche, or climate. Since thorough record keeping began in the 1970’s multiple species without historical ranges in Idaho have begun occurring in increasing abundance within the state. Here we examine the range expansion of two passerine species: Bewick’s Wren (Thyromanes bewickii) and Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria). We reviewed records from the Idaho Bird Records Committee and eBird to investigate the range and relative abundance of the two species within Idaho. We found that both species have expanded their range into Idaho significantly since 1990 and the relative abundance is growing at an increasing rate. We tested hypotheses for the cause of this range expansion including habitat change, change in realized niche, and change in climate and weather patterns. Citizen science projects such as eBird, which was used for this investigation, are increasingly accessible and important for future conservation.

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