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Challenging claims in the study of migratory birds and climate change

Authors

  • Endre Knudsen,

    1. Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
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  • Andreas Lindén,

    1. Integrative Ecology Unit, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, P.O. Box 65, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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    • Present address: Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P.O.Box 1066 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway

  • Christiaan Both,

    1. Animal Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands
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  • Niclas Jonzén,

    1. Department of Biology, Ecology Building, Lund University, SE-22362 Lund, Sweden
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  • Francisco Pulido,

    1. Department of Zoology and Physical Anthropology, Faculty of Biology, Complutense University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
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  • Nicola Saino,

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Celoria 26, 20133 Milano, Italy
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  • William J. Sutherland,

    1. Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, United Kingdom
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  • Lars A. Bach,

    1. Department of Theoretical Ecology, Ecology Building, Lund University, SE-22362 Lund, Sweden
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    • Present address: Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade 114, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark

  • Timothy Coppack,

    1. Zoological Museum, University of Zurich, Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
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    • Present address: Institute of Applied Ecology (IfAÖ GmbH), Department of Ornithology, Alte Dorfstrasse 11, 18184 Neu Broderstorf, Germany

  • Torbjørn Ergon,

    1. Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
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    • Present address: Program for Integrative Biology, Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P.O.Box 1066 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway

  • Phillip Gienapp,

    1. Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, P.O. Box 65, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Jennifer A. Gill,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom
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  • Oscar Gordo,

    1. Department of Zoology and Physical Anthropology, Faculty of Biology, Complutense University of Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
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  • Anders Hedenström,

    1. Department of Biology, Ecology Building, Lund University, SE-22362 Lund, Sweden
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  • Esa Lehikoinen,

    1. Section of Ecology, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland
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  • Peter P. Marra,

    1. Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, National Zoological Park, P.O. Box 37012 MRC 5503, Washington, DC 20008, United States of America
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  • Anders P. Møller,

    1. Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, Bâtiment 362, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
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  • Anna L. K. Nilsson,

    1. Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
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  • Guillaume Péron,

    1. Equipe Biométrie et Biologie des Populations, Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CNRS UMR 5175, 1919 Route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier, France
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  • Esa Ranta,

    1. Integrative Ecology Unit, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, P.O. Box 65, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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    • Deceased during the preparation of this manuscript.

  • Diego Rubolini,

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Celoria 26, 20133 Milano, Italy
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  • Tim H. Sparks,

    1. Institute of Zoology, Poznan University of Life Sciences, Wojska Polskiego 71C, 60-625 Poznan, Poland
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  • Fernando Spina,

    1. Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale, ex-INFS, via Ca’ Fornacetta 9, 40064 Ozzano dell’Emilia, Italy
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  • Colin E. Studds,

    1. Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, National Zoological Park, P.O. Box 37012 MRC 5503, Washington, DC 20008, United States of America
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  • Stein A. Sæther,

    1. Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
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  • Piotr Tryjanowski,

    1. Institute of Zoology, Poznan University of Life Sciences, Wojska Polskiego 71C, 60-625 Poznan, Poland
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  • Nils Chr. Stenseth

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066 Blindern, NO-0316 Oslo, Norway
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(Tel: +47 22 85 44 00; Fax: +47 22 85 40 01; E-mail: n.c.stenseth@bio.uio.no).

Abstract

Recent shifts in phenology in response to climate change are well established but often poorly understood. Many animals integrate climate change across a spatially and temporally dispersed annual life cycle, and effects are modulated by ecological interactions, evolutionary change and endogenous control mechanisms. Here we assess and discuss key statements emerging from the rapidly developing study of changing spring phenology in migratory birds. These well-studied organisms have been instrumental for understanding climate-change effects, but research is developing rapidly and there is a need to attack the big issues rather than risking affirmative science. Although we agree poorly on the support for most claims, agreement regarding the knowledge basis enables consensus regarding broad patterns and likely causes. Empirical data needed for disentangling mechanisms are still scarce, and consequences at a population level and on community composition remain unclear. With increasing knowledge, the overall support (‘consensus view’) for a claim increased and between-researcher variability in support (‘expert opinions') decreased, indicating the importance of assessing and communicating the knowledge basis. A proper integration across biological disciplines seems essential for the field's transition from affirming patterns to understanding mechanisms and making robust predictions regarding future consequences of shifting phenologies.

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