EEB Seminar

Daniel Gillis (University of Toronto)

Citizen science reveals songbird spring migration arrival time is advancing more for efficient fliers

February 25th 12:30-1:30pm ET

Shifting phenology in response to climate change has been documented for many taxa worldwide. Several migratory bird species are arriving at their breeding regions earlier, which can lead to trophic and climatic mismatches. This trend towards earlier arrival times contains considerable variation and the mechanisms behind differences in migration shifts are not clear. We hypothesized that greater flight efficiency may be associated with larger shifts, as better fliers may have more flexibility to respond to changing conditions during migration. We applied an updated modelling approach towards analyzing 18 years of eBird citizen science data to generate estimates of the mean arrival date for 29 common passerines migrating to northeast North America. We compared temporal shifts in mean arrival date with morphology parameters associated with flight efficiency and migratory distance. Our research highlights how traits can influence the ability of species to adjust phenology in response to climate change. Identifying possible targets for climate change-induced selection will facilitate conservation efforts for targeting species with traits that will be a detriment to novel climatic conditions. Increasing citizen science involvement provides the opportunity to test novel modelling techniques for generating geographically broad, long-term analyses of important ecological trends. 

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