ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – As if drought wasn't enough, federal scientists say an endangered songbird that lives along rivers and streams in several states is now threatened by a destructive beetle.
A report by the U.S. Geological Survey identifies new threats facing the Southwestern willow flycatcher and provides more detail about its habitat.
Scientists say satellite modeling that predicts the effects of tamarisk leaf beetles in the bird's habitat can be used by land and water managers as they try to balance protecting the bird with controlling invasive salt cedar trees.
The beetles have been successful in beating back the nonnative trees, chewing through 94 percent of the flycatcher's habitat along the lower Virgin River.
The modeling predicts significant stretches of habitat along the lower Colorado River and the upper Gila River will be destroyed by the beetles in the next decade.