Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why timing of bird migration is changing

Date:
November 12, 2013
Source:
University of East Anglia
Summary:
Researchers have found out why birds are migrating earlier and earlier each year. Experts have long suspected climate change is somehow driving this advancing migration pattern. But new research reveals that individual birds migrate like clockwork -- arriving at the same time each year. However, climate warming is resulting in earlier nesting and hatching earlier each year, and this appears to be linked to the advancing migration.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have found out why birds are migrating earlier and earlier each year. Experts have long suspected climate change is somehow driving this advancing migration pattern. But new research published today reveals that individual birds migrate like clockwork -- arriving at the same time each year. However, climate warming is resulting in earlier nesting and hatching earlier each year, and this appears to be linked to the advancing migration.
Credit: Tomas G Gunnarsson (University of Iceland)

Researchers at the University of East Anglia have found out why birds are migrating earlier and earlier each year.

Experts have long suspected climate change is somehow driving this advancing migration pattern. But new research published today reveals that individual birds migrate like clockwork -- arriving at the same time each year.

However, climate warming is resulting in earlier nesting and hatching earlier each year, and this appears to be linked to the advancing migration.

Lead researcher Dr Jenny Gill from UEA's school of Biological Sciences said: "We have known that birds are migrating earlier and earlier each year -- particularly those that migrate over shorter distances. But the reason why has puzzled bird experts for years. It's a particularly important question because the species which are not migrating earlier are declining in numbers."

The research team looked at a population of Icelandic black-tailed godwits over 20 years. During this time period, the flock advanced their spring arrival date by two weeks.

"The obvious answer would be that individual birds are simply migrating earlier each year. But our tracking of individual birds shows that this is not the case. In fact individual birds do almost exactly the same thing every year -- arriving punctually at the same time year-on-year."

The team went on to investigate what could be causing the overall arrival time of godwits to creep forward.

"Because we have been following the same birds for so many years, we know the exact ages of many of them.

"We found that birds hatched in the late 1990s arrived in May, but those hatched in more recent years are tending to arrive in April. So the arrival dates are advancing because the new youngsters are migrating earlier.

"Climate change is likely to be driving this change because godwits nest earlier in warmer years, and birds that hatch earlier will have more time to gain the body condition needed for migration and to find good places to spend the winter, which can help them to return early to Iceland when they come back to breed."

This can also explain why advances in migration timing are not common among species migrating over long distances. "Many long-distance migrants arrive so late on the breeding grounds that they have little opportunity to respond to warming conditions by nesting earlier."

"This research is very important because many long-distance migrant bird populations are currently declining very rapidly, and identifying how climate change is affecting these populations is a key part of understanding the causes of these declines."

The research team has been supported by a network of more than 2000 birdwatchers who report sightings of colour-ringed black-tailed godwits along the whole flyway, from Iceland to Spain and Portugal.

The research was funded by Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jennifer A Gill, Jose A Alves, William J Sutherland, Graham F Appleton, Peter M Potts and Tomas G Gunnarsson. Why is timing of bird migration advancing when individuals are not. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, November 13, 2013

Cite This Page:

University of East Anglia. "Why timing of bird migration is changing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112200637.htm>.
University of East Anglia. (2013, November 12). Why timing of bird migration is changing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112200637.htm
University of East Anglia. "Why timing of bird migration is changing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131112200637.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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