Phenological Synchrony and Bird Migration: Changing Climate and Seasonal Resources in North America
Eric M Wood and Jherime L Kellermann (Eds)
The two editors, currently at Cornell and Oregon Institute of Technology, have brought together 43 other scientists working in the field in the US to produce this latest assessment of the effects of climate change on avifauna. The subject is complex and these authors do not yet have the answers.
The book is part of the Studies in Avian Biology series and its 12 chapters fall into four themes: migratory connectivity, spring migration, autumn migration, and conservation and management. There are discussions in each chapter, but no overall assessment of findings, which would have been useful. Some of these works offer the fruits of more than 50 years of collected phenological data, some gathered by citizen science.
The conclusion appears to be that responses to climate change are variable across species (as might be expected), some influenced by spring temperature, others by spring rainfall. Where there are more frequent early springs, this generally affects the fitness of birds, and fruit-eating birds tend to migrate earlier when the quality and quantity of available fruits is lower.
Lessons learned in some cases were that protecting stopover habitat is of critical conservation concern. There are so many people researching the effects of climate change on avifauna (just in the US), and yet the more they probe into the real and actual effects, the more questions are raised about protecting important habitats. These dedicated researchers are unearthing field evidence of natural selective processes in the face of external factors.
Dr John Feltwell FRSB