Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate change, increasing temperatures alter bird migration patterns

24.02.2012
Birds in eastern North America are picking up the pace along their yearly migratory paths.

The reason, according to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers, is rising temperatures due to climate change.

Using migration information collected in eBird, a citizen science program database containing 10 years' worth of observations from amateur birdwatchers, assistant professor of biology Allen Hurlbert, Ph.D., and his team in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences analyzed when 18 different species of birds arrived at various points across their migration journeys. Since 2002, eBird has collected more than 48 million bird observations from roughly 35,000 contributors.

The study results were published in the journal PLoS ONE on Wednesday (Feb. 22).

Pushing migration earlier in the year could negatively affect birds over the long term, Hurlbert said.

"Timing of bird migration is something critical for the overall health of bird species," he said. "They have to time it right so they can balance arriving on breeding grounds after there's no longer a risk of severe winter conditions. If they get it wrong, they may die or may not produce as many young. A change in migration could begin to contribute to population decline, putting many species at risk for extinction."

To minimize these threats, Hurlbert said he hoped the findings would be used to increase awareness around bird conservation. The outcomes also could help scientists identify which parts of the eastern United States will experience the greatest migration shifts, as well as which species face the largest dangers because they will be least likely to adapt successfully to climate change.

Although eBird only contains a decade of amateur-submitted data, versus several decades of data compiled by select bird observatories, the information it contains provides greater geographic coverage. Hurlbert's team focused on bird species that occur over the entire breadth of the eastern U.S. By reviewing the recorded temperatures and the exact dates on which bird watchers first noticed certain species in their areas, the researchers determined how closely bird migration tracks year-to-year variation in temperature.

On average, each species reached various stopping points 0.8 days earlier per degree Celsius of temperature increase. Some species' schedules accelerated by as much as three to six days for each rising degree. To date, the Northeast has experienced more relative warming than the Southeast.

According to the review, Hurlbert said, the speed at which a species migrates is the biggest influence on how strongly it responds to increasing temperatures. Slow migrators, such as the red-eyed vireo or the great crested flycatcher, were the most adaptable to changes. Additionally, the length of the migration path affects how quickly birds move from one location to another.

"It makes sense that if you take your time to move north, you're sort of checking out the surroundings around you," he said. "If the conditions seem too cold, you can decide there's no point in moving on that day. Species that tended to advance quickly, as well as those migrating from greater distances, such as Central or South America, were less able to adapt to temperature changes."

However, being a slow traveler does not free a species from all climate change-induced migration challenges. Because they stay in one spot longer, such birds have heavier habitat and food requirements, making them more dependent upon the resources that are available along their paths. That reliance could become a greater problem if climate projections for the next 50 years to 75 years hold true, Hurlbert said. Climatologists predict the Northeast will continue to warm at a faster pace than the Southeast, potentially forcing slow migrators to move even slower and put greater strain on their migratory routes.

"There's a lot of concern in the scientific community about climate change and how it will affect living things," he said. "This is a really useful data set that can likely address these anxieties around birds."

The study's co-author was Zhongfei Liang, a former undergraduate student who helped Hurlbert analyze the data. The paper's title is "Spatiotemporal Variation in Avian Migration Phenology: Citizen Science Reveals Effects of Climate Change."

Study link: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0031662

Media note: Hurlbert can be reached at (919) 843-9930 or hurlbert@bio.unc.edu

patric lane | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>