Potential Effects of Climate Change on Snail Kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) in Florida

Open-File Report 2021-1104-A
By: , and 



The snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus), an endangered, wetland-dependent raptor, is highly sensitive to changes in hydrology. Climate-driven changes in water level will likely affect snail kite populations—altering reproductive success and survival rates. Identifying the mechanisms mediating the direct and indirect effects of climate on snail kite populations and the range of future climate conditions is important to the conservation of this species. When water levels are low, snail kite nest initiation and nest success decrease owing to decreased availability of their primary prey applesnails (Pomacea spp.), unstable nesting sites, and increased predator access. Dry events also lead to decreased adult and juvenile survival. In the next 80 years, temperatures and potential evapotranspiration are projected to increase in central and southern Florida. Although future precipitation volume is more uncertain, increased temperatures and evaporative loss may lead to increased frequency, duration, and severity of low-water events. Additionally, rapidly rising water levels have adverse effects on snail kite reproductive success—destroying nests, preventing access to apple snails, and reducing apple snail productivity. Finally, it is likely that future climate will favor more frequent dry conditions and extreme heavy rainfall events, both of which are directly linked to decreased reproductive success and survival. The potential effects of climate change may be buffered by the availability of alternative prey (non-native applesnails) that are more tolerant of anticipated conditions. In highly controlled southern Florida waterbodies, regional water-management decisions may buffer or exacerbate waterbody accession and recession rates.

Suggested Citation

Lyons, M.P., LeDee, O.E., and Boyles, R., 2021, Potential effects of climate change on snail kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) in Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1104–A, 12 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211104A.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Purpose and Scope
  • Climatic Context
  • Hydrological Context
  • Climate Change Projections
  • Reproduction and Recruitment
  • Survival
  • Phenology
  • Biotic Interactions
  • Habitat
  • Management
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Potential effects of climate change on snail kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) in Florida
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2021-1104
Chapter A
DOI 10.3133/ofr20211104A
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Southeast Climate Science Center
Description vi, 12 p.
Country United States
State Florida
Other Geospatial Everglades National Park, Lake Okeechobee, Kissimmee Chain of Lakes
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details