Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

No early birds getting the worms: Songbirds risk missing peak food supply

Date:
June 3, 2013
Source:
York University
Summary:
A mismatch between the departure schedules of songbirds and higher spring temperatures at their breeding sites means they are arriving 'late' for the advanced spring and likely missing out on peak food they need to be productive breeders.

This is an adult male purple martin outfitted with a geolocator.
Credit: Nanette Mickle

A mismatch between the departure schedules of songbirds and higher spring temperatures at their breeding sites is putting them at risk, according to a new study out of York University.

Related Articles


The study, "A Trans-Hemispheric Migratory Songbird Does Not Advance Spring Schedules or Increase Migration Rate in Response to Record-Setting Temperatures at Breeding Sites," published in the journal PLOS ONE, tracked the spring migration of purple martins over five years from the Amazon basin to two breeding sites in eastern North America. Researchers outfitted the birds with tiny geolocator "backpacks" to record data on their movements and found that the birds' departure times between years were surprisingly consistent, despite variation in temperature at their final destination.

"We found that purple martins migrating between the Amazon Basin and North America did not adjust their migration timing even during the hottest spring on record in 2012," says study author Kevin Fraser, a Postdoctoral Fellow in York's Department of Biology, Faculty of Science. "This means that they arrived 'late' for the advanced spring, and likely missed out on peak food they need to be productive breeders."

Aerial insectivores, like purple martins and other swallows, are experiencing strong population declines, particularly species migrating longer distances and populations breeding further north. Scientists have shown in a European species that declines may be due to an inability to advance arrival schedules to match a warming climate. This study provides the first direct evidence of a discrepancy between higher spring temperatures at breeding sites and departure schedules of individual songbirds.

"Our results suggest that long-distance migrants may receive limited or conflicting environmental cues about conditions at the breeding grounds while still at overwintering sites or along migration routes," says Fraser. "Once en route, the birds received no temperature cues of the warm spring until they reached the US Gulf coast, at which point it was likely too late to get to breeding sites earlier." Fraser says such mistiming is an active area of new research, and with climate change may be an important contributing factor to migratory songbird declines.

"Some migratory songbirds may not have the flexibility they need to respond quickly to earlier springs and more variable weather with climate change, which could contribute to the strong population declines we see in many species. Identifying which species or populations may be at greatest risk will be very important for guiding effective conservation action."

He says the study suggests that migration timing and rate in purple martin is not highly sensitive to short-term variation in temperature and rainfall, and that multiple years of increasing spring temperatures may be required to shift the birds to an earlier breeding arrival time through natural selection for earlier departure from tropical overwintering sites.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kevin C. Fraser, Cassandra Silverio, Patrick Kramer, Nanette Mickle, Robert Aeppli, Bridget J. M. Stutchbury. A Trans-Hemispheric Migratory Songbird Does Not Advance Spring Schedules or Increase Migration Rate in Response to Record-Setting Temperatures at Breeding Sites. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (5): e64587 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064587

Cite This Page:

York University. "No early birds getting the worms: Songbirds risk missing peak food supply." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130603135525.htm>.
York University. (2013, June 3). No early birds getting the worms: Songbirds risk missing peak food supply. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130603135525.htm
York University. "No early birds getting the worms: Songbirds risk missing peak food supply." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130603135525.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins