Climate Change Impacts: Birds

Abstract

Climate change can affect populations and species in various ways. Rising temperatures can shift geographical distributions and lead to (phenotypic or genetic) changes in traits, mostly phenology, which may affect demography. Most of these effects are well documented in birds. For example, the distribution of species has shifted polewards, and birds are nowadays breeding or migrating earlier. An important aspect of the observed phenological changes is whether species are thereby able to maintain synchrony with phenological changes in their environment, for example the phenology of their prey species. Disrupted synchrony, for example between predator and prey, can lead to reduced reproductive success or survival, which can negatively affect demography. Evidence for this happening in birds is – so far – limited but theoretical models predict that extinction risks could arise through insufficient adaptation to such phenological mismatches.

Key Concepts

  • Climate change will alter the optimal value of traits.
  • Populations can track a changing environment by phenotypic plasticity.
  • If phenotypic plasticity is not sufficient to track the environment, selection arises and an evolutionary change becomes necessary.
  • Maladaptation can lead to extinction due to reduced reproductive success or survival.
  • Genetic variation is important for evolutionary change and hence adaptation to climate change.

Keywords: adaptation; birds; breeding; climate change; demography; migration; phenology; phenotypic plasticity

Figure 1. Schematic representation of the great tit–caterpillar phenology in the Hoge Veluwe. Three important life‐history events in the great tit reproduction cycle are denoted with the red line and nestling peak food need with a green line in the top half of the schematic; the caterpillar phenology is indicated with the green line in the lower half. Before the effects of climate change were apparent, peak food demands and availability coincided (left‐hand side of the schematic); owing to increasingly warmer springs, the caterpillar biomass peak has advanced by ∼2 weeks, whereas the timing of nestling peak food need has advanced at a slower rate, leading to ‘phenological mismatch’ (right‐hand side).
close

References

Ahola M, Laaksonen T, Sippola K, et al. (2004) Variation in climate warming along the migration route uncouples arrival and breeding dates. Global Change Biology 10: 1610–1617.

Alerstam T (2011) Optimal bird migration revisited. Journal of Ornithology 152: 5–23.

Arnaud CM, Becker PH, Dobson FS and Charmantier A (2013) Canalization of phenology in common terns: genetic and phenotypic variations in spring arrival date. Behavioral Ecology 24: 683–690.

van Asch M and Visser ME (2007) Phenology of forest caterpillars and their host trees: the importance of synchrony. Annual Review of Entomology 52: 37–55.

Barbraud C and Weimerskirch H (2003) Climate and density shape population dynamics of a marine top predator. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 270: 2111–2116.

Bêty J, Giroux J‐F and Gauthier G (2004) Individual variation in timing of migration: causes and reproductive consequences in greater snow gees (Anser caerulescens atlanticus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 57: 1–8.

Both C and Visser ME (2001) Adjustment to climate change is constrained by arrival date in a long‐distance migrant bird. Nature 411: 296–298.

Both C, Artemyev AV, Blaauw B, et al. (2004) Large‐scale geographical variation confirms that climate change causes birds to lay earlier. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 271: 1657–1662.

Both C (2010a) Flexibility of timing of avian migration to climate change masked by environmental constraints en route. Current Biology 20: 243–248.

Both C (2010b) Food availability, mistiming, and climatic change. In: Møller AP, Fiedler HP and Berthold P (eds) Effects of Climate Change on Birds. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Bradshaw CJA, Brook BW, Delean S, et al. (2014) Predictors of contraction and expansion of area of occupancy for British birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281: 20140744.

Bridge ES, Thorup K, Bowlin MS, et al. (2011) Technology on the move: recent and forthcoming innovations for tracking migratory birds. BioScience 61: 689–698.

Brown CR and Brown MB (2000) Weather‐mediated natural selection on arrival time in cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 47: 339–345.

Bürger R and Lynch M (1994) Evolution and extinction in a changing environment: a quantitative‐genetic analysis. Evolution 49: 151–163.

Charmantier A, McCleery RH, Cole LR, et al. (2008) Adaptive phenotypic plasticity in response to climate change in a wild bird population. Science 320: 800–803.

Charmantier A and Gienapp P (2014) Climate change and timing of avian breeding and migration: evolutionary versus plastic changes. Evolutionary Applications 7: 15–28.

Clausen KK and Clausen P (2013) Earlier Arctic springs cause phenological mismatch in long‐distance migrants. Oecologia 173: 1101–1112.

Crick HQP, Dudley C, Glue DE and Thomson DL (1997) UK birds are laying eggs earlier. Nature 388: 526.

Dunn PO and Winkler DW (1999) Climate change has affected the breeding date of tree swallows throughout North America. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 266: 2487–2490.

Easterling DR, Horton B, Jones PD, et al. (1997) Maximum and minimum temperature trends for the globe. Science 277: 364–367.

Field CB, Barros VR, Dokken DJ, et al. (eds) (2014) IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK and New York, USA, 1132 pp.

Gienapp P and Visser ME (2006) Possible fitness consequences of experimentally advanced laying dates in Great Tits: differences between populations in different habitats. Functional Ecology 20: 180–185.

Gienapp P, Leimu R and Merilä J (2007) Responses to climate change in avian migration time—microevolution versus phenotypic plasticity. Climate Research 35: 25–35.

Gienapp P and Bregnballe T (2012) Consequences of timing of migration and breeding in cormorants. PLoS One 7: e46165.

Gienapp P, Lof M, Reed TE, et al. (2013) Predicting demographically sustainable rates of adaptation: can great tit breeding time keep pace with climate change? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 368: 20120289.

Gienapp P, Reed TE and Visser ME (2014) Why climate change will invariably alter selection pressures on phenology. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281: 20141611.

Giorgi F and Lionello P (2008) Climate change projections for the Mediterranean region. Global and Planetary Change 63: 90–104.

van der Graaf S, Stahl J, Klimkowska A, Bakker JP and Drent RH (2006) Surfing on a green wave – how plant growth drives migration in the Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis. Ardea 94: 567–577.

Gunnarsson TG and Tomasson G (2011) Flexibility in spring arrival of migratory birds at northern latitudes under rapid temperature changes. Bird Study 58: 1–12.

Gwinner E (1996) Circannual clocks in avian reproduction and migration. Ibis 138: 47–63.

Hitch AT and Leberg PL (2007) Breeding distributions of North American bird species moving north as a result of climate change. Conservation Biology 21: 534–539.

Høgda KA, Karlsen SR and Solheim I (eds) (2001) Climate Change Impact on Growing Season in Fennoscandia Studied by a Time Series of NOAA AVHRR NDVI Data. IGARSS: Sydney.

Howard C, Stephens PA, Pearce‐Higgins JW, Gregory RD and Willis SG (2015) The drivers of avian abundance: patterns in the relative importance of climate and land use. Global Ecology and Biogeography 24: 1249–1260.

Huntley B, Collingham YC, Willis SG and Green RE (2008) Potential impacts of climatic change on European breeding birds. PLoS One 3: e1439.

Husby A, Hille SM and Visser ME (2011) Testing mechanisms of Bergmann's rule: phenotypic decline but no genetic change in body size in three passerine bird populations. American Naturalist 178: 202–213.

Jenni L and Kery M (2003) Timing of autumn bird migration under climate change: advances in long‐distance migrants, delays in short‐distance migrants. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 270: 1467–1471.

van der Jeugd HP, Eichhorn G, Litvin KE, et al. (2009) Keeping up with early springs: rapid range expansion in an avian herbivore incurs a mismatch between reproductive timing and food supply. Global Change Biology 15: 1057–1071.

Jonzén N, Hedenström A and Lundberg P (2007) Phenology of two interdependent traits in migratory birds in response to climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274: 269–274.

Kristensen NP, Johansson J, Ripa J and Jonzén N (2015) Phenology of two interdependent traits in migratory birds in response to climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 282: 20150288.

Lehikoinen A and Virkkala R (2016) North by north‐west: climate change and directions of density shifts in birds. Global Change Biology 22: 1121–1129.

Lynch M and Lande R (1998) The critical effective size for a genetically secure population. Animal Conservation 1: 70–72.

Marra PP, Francis CM, Mulvihill RS and Moore FR (2005) The influence of climate on the timing and rate of spring bird migration. Oecologia 142: 307–315.

Marra PP, Cohen EB, Loss SR, Rutter JE and Tonra CM (2015) A call for annual cycle research in animal ecology. Biology Letters 11: 20150552.

McKinnon EA, Fraaser KC and Stutchbury BJM (2013) New discoveries in landbird migration using geolocators, and a flight plan for the future. The Auk 130: 211–222.

Parmesan C and Yohe G (2003) A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature 421: 37–42.

Parmesan C (2006) Ecological and evolutionary responses to recent climate change. Annual Review of Ecological Systems 37: 637–669.

van der Putten WH, Macel M and Visser ME (2010) Predicting species distribution and abundance responses to climate change: why it is essential to include biotic interactions across trophic levels. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365: 2025–2034.

Reed TE, Jenouvrier S and Visser ME (2013) Phenological mismatch strongly affects individual fitness but not population demography in a woodland passerine. Journal of Animal Ecology 82: 131–144.

Reed TE, Gienapp P and Visser ME (2015) Density dependence and microevolution interactively determine effects of phenology mismatch on population dynamics. Oikos 124: 81–91.

Root TL, Price JT, Hall KR, et al. (2003) Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants. Nature 421: 57–60.

Rubolini D, Saino N and Møller AP (2010) Migratory behaviour constrains the phenological response of birds to climate change. Climate Research 42: 45–55.

Salewski V, Hochachka WM and Fiedler W (2010) Global warming and Bergmann's rule: do central European passerines adjust their body size to rising temperatures? Oecologia 162: 247–260.

Schaefer H‐K, Jetz W and Böhning‐Gaese K (2008) Impact of climate change on migratory birds: community reassembly versus adaptation. Global Ecology and Biogeography 17: 38–49.

Sekercioglu CH, Schneider SH, Fay JP and Loarie SR (2008) Climate change, elevational range shifts, and bird extinctions. Conservation Biology 22: 140–150.

Sheridan JA and Bickford D (2011) Shrinking body size as an ecological response to climate change. Nature Climate Change 1: 401–406.

Small‐Lorenz SL, Culp LA, Ryder TB, Will TC and Marra PP (2013) A blind spot in climate change vulnerability assessments. Nature Climate Change 3: 91–93.

Smith RJ and Moore FR (2005) Arrival timing and seasonal reproductive performance in a long‐distance migratory landbird. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 57: 231–239.

Smith JJ, Hasiotis ST, Kraus MJ and Woody DT (2009) Transient dwarfism of soil fauna during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106: 17655–17660.

Stutchbury BJM, Tarof SA, Done T, et al. (2009) Tracking long‐distance songbird migration by using geolocators. Science 323: 896.

Teplitsky C, Mills JA, Alho JS, Yarrall JW and Merilä J (2008) Bergmann's rule and climate change revisited: disentangling environmental and genetic responses in a wild bird population. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105: 13492–13496.

Teplitsky C and Millien V (2014) Climate warming and Bergmann's rule through time: is there any evidence? Evolutionary Applications 7: 156–168.

Thomas CD and Lennon JJ (1999) Birds extend their ranges northwards. Nature 399: 213.

Thomas CD, Cameron A, Green RE, et al. (2004) Extinction risk from climate change. Nature 427: 145–148.

Torti VM and Dunn PO (2005) Variable effects of climate change on six species of North American birds. Oecologia 145: 486–495.

Trivelpiece WZ, Hinke JT, Miller AK, et al. (2011) Variability in krill biomass links harvesting and climate warming to penguin population changes in Antarctica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108: 7625–7628.

Verhulst S and Nilsson J‐Å (2008) The timing of birds' breeding seasons: a review of experiments that manipulated timing of breeding. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 363: 399–410.

Visser ME, van Noordwijk AJ, Tinbergen JM and Lessells CM (1998) Warmer springs lead to mistimed reproduction in great tits (Parus major). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 265: 1867–1870.

Visser ME, Both C and Lambrechts MM (2004) Global climate change leads to mistimed avian reproduction. Advances in Ecological Research 35: 89–110.

Visser ME and Both C (2005) Shifts in phenology due to global climate change: the need for a yardstick. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 272: 2561–2569.

Visser ME, Holleman LJM and Gienapp P (2006) Shifts in caterpillar biomass phenology due to climate change and its impact on the breeding biology of an insectivorous bird. Oecologia 147: 164–172.

Visser ME, Perdeck AC, van Balen JH and Both C (2009) Climate change leads to decreasing bird migration distances. Global Change Biology 15: 1859–1865.

Visser ME, te Marvelde L and Lof ME (2012) Adaptive phenological mismatches of birds and their food in a warming world. Journal of Ornithology 153 (Suppl 1): S75–S84.

Walther G‐R, Post E, Convey P, et al. (2002) Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416: 389–395.

Wilson AJ, Réale D, Clements MN, et al. (2010) An ecologist's guide to the animal model. Journal of Animal Ecology 79: 13–26.

Further Reading

Kareiva PM, Kingsolver JG and Huey RB (eds) (1993) Biotic Interactions and Global Change. Sunderland MA, USA: Sinauer Associates, 559 pp.

Lovejoy TE and Hannah L (eds) (2005) Climate Change and Biodiversity. Cambridge MA: Yale University Press, 440 pp.

Merilä J and Hendry AP (2014) Climate change, adaptation, and phenotypic plasticity: the problem and the evidence. Evolutionary Applications 7: 1–14.

Miller‐Rushing AJ, Høye TT, Inouye DW and Post E (2010) The effects of phenological mismatches on demography. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365: 3177–3186.

Møller AP, Fiedler W and Berthold P (eds) (2004) Birds and Climate Change. Advances in Ecological Research, vol. 35. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 251 pp.

Pigliucci M (2005) Evolution of phenotypic plasticity: where are we going now? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 20: 481–486.

Thackeray SJ, Sparks TH, Frederiksen M, et al. (2010) Trophic level asynchrony in rates of phenological change for marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Global Change Biology 16: 3304–3313.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Tomotani, Barbara M, Ramakers, Jip JC, and Gienapp, Phillip(Nov 2016) Climate Change Impacts: Birds. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020484.pub2]