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Variation in climate warming along the migration route uncouples arrival and breeding dates

Authors


Markus Ahola, fax +358 2 333 6550, e-mail: mapeah@utu.fi

Abstract

Migratory species are of special concern in the face of global climate change, since they may be affected by changes in the wintering area, along the migration route and at the breeding grounds. Here we show that migration and breeding times of a trans-Saharan migrant, the pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca, closely follow local temperatures along the migration route and at the breeding grounds. Because of differences in long-term temperature trends of short within-spring periods, the migration period and the time interval between migration and breeding dates of this species have extended in SW Finland. Temperatures in northern parts of Central Europe have risen at the time when the first migrants arrive there, facilitating their migration northward. Temperatures later in the spring have not changed, and the last individuals arrive at the same time as before. The timing of breeding has not advanced because temperatures at the breeding site after arrival have not changed. These results show that the pied flycatchers can speed up their migration in response to rising temperatures along the migration route. Our results strongly indicate that the effects of climate change have to be studied at the appropriate time and geographical scales for each species and population concerned.

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