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Can long-distance migratory birds adjust to the advancement of spring by shortening migration distance? The response of the pied flycatcher to latitudinal photoperiodic variation


Coppack, T; Tindemans, I; Czisch, M; Van der Linden, A; Berthold, P; Pulido, F (2008). Can long-distance migratory birds adjust to the advancement of spring by shortening migration distance? The response of the pied flycatcher to latitudinal photoperiodic variation. Global Change Biology, 14(11):2516-2522.

Abstract

Many organisms use day length as a cue for synchronizing their life cycles with seasonal changes in environmental productivity. Under rapid climate change, however, responses to day length may become maladaptive, and photo-responsive organisms may only be able to evade increasingly unsuitable habitats if they can accommodate to a wide range of photoperiodic conditions. A previous experiment showed that the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca, a Palaearctic-Afrotropical migratory bird, would strongly advance the timing of spring migration and reproductive maturation if it shifted its wintering area from sub-Saharan Africa to the Mediterranean region. However, it is unknown whether this marked response to latitudinal variation in photoperiodic conditions is continuous over the entire range of potential wintering areas, and if a shortening of migration distance would be an effective mechanism to adjust the timing of migration to rapidly changing climatic conditions. Here, we experimentally show that a moderate northward displacement of the pied flycatcher’s current wintering grounds by 101 would result in a clear advancement of the termination of prenuptial moult and the initiation of spring migratory activity and gonadal growth. However, we found no further advancement under conditions simulating higher wintering latitudes, suggesting the existence of a critical photoperiodic threshold or a steep gradual response within a narrow geographical range between 101 and 201 northern latitude. Because habitat conditions in this area are deteriorating rapidly, the potential for pied flycatchers to adjust their life cycle to changing climatic conditions by shortening the migration distance may be limited in the future.

Abstract

Many organisms use day length as a cue for synchronizing their life cycles with seasonal changes in environmental productivity. Under rapid climate change, however, responses to day length may become maladaptive, and photo-responsive organisms may only be able to evade increasingly unsuitable habitats if they can accommodate to a wide range of photoperiodic conditions. A previous experiment showed that the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca, a Palaearctic-Afrotropical migratory bird, would strongly advance the timing of spring migration and reproductive maturation if it shifted its wintering area from sub-Saharan Africa to the Mediterranean region. However, it is unknown whether this marked response to latitudinal variation in photoperiodic conditions is continuous over the entire range of potential wintering areas, and if a shortening of migration distance would be an effective mechanism to adjust the timing of migration to rapidly changing climatic conditions. Here, we experimentally show that a moderate northward displacement of the pied flycatcher’s current wintering grounds by 101 would result in a clear advancement of the termination of prenuptial moult and the initiation of spring migratory activity and gonadal growth. However, we found no further advancement under conditions simulating higher wintering latitudes, suggesting the existence of a critical photoperiodic threshold or a steep gradual response within a narrow geographical range between 101 and 201 northern latitude. Because habitat conditions in this area are deteriorating rapidly, the potential for pied flycatchers to adjust their life cycle to changing climatic conditions by shortening the migration distance may be limited in the future.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:04 Feb 2009 15:20
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 16:37
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1354-1013
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01668.x

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