Spatiotemporal Variation in Avian Migration Phenology: Citizen Science Reveals Effects of Climate Change
by Allen H. Hurlbert, Zhongfei Liang
A growing number of studies have documented shifts in avian migratory phenology in response to climate change, and yet there is a large amount of unexplained variation in the magnitude of those responses across species and geographic regions. We use a database of citizen science bird observations to explore spatiotemporal variation in mean arrival dates across an unprecedented geographic extent for 18 common species in North America over the past decade, relating arrival dates to mean minimum spring temperature. Across all species and geographic locations, species shifted arrival dates 0.8 days earlier for every °C of warming of spring temperature, but it was common for some species in some locations to shift as much as 3–6 days earlier per °C. Species that advanced arrival dates the earliest in response to warming were those that migrate more slowly, short distance migrants, and species with broader climatic niches. These three variables explained 63% of the interspecific variation in phenological response. We also identify a latitudinal gradient in the average strength of phenological response, with species shifting arrival earlier at southern latitudes than northern latitudes for the same degree of warming. This observation is consistent with the idea that species must be more phenologically sensitive in less seasonal environments to maintain the same degree of precision in phenological timing.
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Syndicated from:PLoS ONE
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