Diversity of birds in eastern North America shifts north with global warming
Article first published online: 6 NOV 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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Ecology and Evolution
Volume 2, Issue 12, pages 3052–3060, December 2012
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2012; 2(12): 3052–3060
- Issue published online: 13 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 6 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 25 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 30 MAY 2012
- Breeding Bird Survey;
- climate change;
- spring temperature;
- trans-Gulf migrant
The distribution of diversity along latitudinal and elevation gradients, and the coupling of this phenomenon with climate, is a pattern long recognized in ecology. Hypothesizing that climate change may have altered this pattern over time, we investigated whether the aggregate of reported northward shifts of bird ranges in North America is now detectable in community-level indices such as richness and diversity. Here, we report that bird diversity in North America increased and shifted northward between 1966 and 2010. This change in the relationship of diversity to the latitudinal gradient is primarily influenced by range expansions of species that winter in the eastern United States as opposed to species which migrate to this area from wintering grounds in the tropics. This increase in diversity and its northward expansion is best explained by an increase in regional prebreeding season temperature over the past 44 years.