EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan State University is joining an environmental nonprofit group to help protect declining bird populations.

MSU and the nonprofit National Audubon Society were awarded a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The grant will allow MSU and NAS to create statistical models to evaluate how climate change and land-use impact bird populations.

Elise Zipkin, MSU Associate Professor and lead investigator of the NSF project, remarked that birds do much more that we don’t think about or appreciate as much.

“Birds provide a ton of ecosystem services that are worth billions of dollars, including nutrient cycling, pest control, seed dispersal and pollination,” said Zipkin. “Broadly speaking, our results will help with conservation planning for avian species and communities.”

Audubon lead researcher Sarah Saunders said that the study of the impact of climate change and land-use on bird species is typically something that in the past has been studied separately.

“We’ll be looking at data from the last 20 years and trying to predict what will be happening by midcentury and end–of century,” Saunders said.

The grant enables the team to develop forecasts about future responses of bird populations and helps conservationists and wildlife managers pinpoint where individual species could be most at risk.