3 years ago

Holding steady: Little change in intensity or timing of bird migration over the Gulf of Mexico

Kyle G. Horton, Benjamin M. Van Doren, Frank A. La Sorte, Emily B. Cohen, Hannah L. Clipp, Jeffrey J. Buler, Daniel Fink, Jeffrey F. Kelly, Andrew Farnsworth

Abstract

Quantifying the timing and intensity of migratory movements is imperative for understanding impacts of changing landscapes and climates on migratory bird populations. Billions of birds migrate in the Western Hemisphere, but accurately estimating the population size of one migratory species, let alone hundreds, presents numerous obstacles. Here, we quantify the timing, intensity, and distribution of bird migration through one of the largest migration corridors in the Western Hemisphere, the Gulf of Mexico (the Gulf). We further assess whether there have been changes in migration timing or intensity through the Gulf. To achieve this, we integrate citizen science (eBird) observations with 21 years of weather surveillance radar data (1995–2015). We predicted no change in migration timing and a decline in migration intensity across the time series. We estimate that an average of 2.1 billion birds pass through this region each spring en route to Nearctic breeding grounds. Annually, half of these individuals pass through the region in just 18 days, between April 19 and May 7. The western region of the Gulf showed a mean rate of passage 5.4 times higher than the central and eastern regions. We did not detect an overall change in the annual numbers of migrants (2007–2015) or the annual timing of peak migration (1995–2015). However, we found that the earliest seasonal movements through the region occurred significantly earlier over time (1.6 days decade−1). Additionally, body mass and migration distance explained the magnitude of phenological changes, with the most rapid advances occurring with an assemblage of larger‐bodied shorter‐distance migrants. Our results provide baseline information that can be used to advance our understanding of the developing implications of climate change, urbanization, and energy development for migratory bird populations in North America.

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.