Migration speed and scheduling of annual events by migrating birds in relation to climate change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Empirical evidence for changed timing of migration in birds is emerging from both
American and Euro-African migration systems. These changes are usually interpreted as a consequence
of changes in climate. Responses in timing of migration and breeding may differ among species,
and the adaptive significance is not well understood. There is a lack of theoretical understanding
about time-shifts in life-history events due to climatic changes. In the present paper, we use 2
separate modelling approaches to investigate the effects of climate change on migration. We first use
a simple model of flight speed and foraging to explore which factors may influence migration speed
and stopover itinerary. Our second approach derives predictions based on an annual routine model,
where behavioural strategies regarding timing of migration, breeding, moult and number of breeding
attempts are modelled in an environment comprising 4 locations (breeding and wintering sites
and 2 stopover sites). This approach takes account of interrelationships between behaviours and seasons
as a step towards realistic modelling of migratory connectivity. Departure from the wintering site
is advanced in relation to the advancement of spring if the moult is in summer, but not so for species
with a winter moult, while arrival at the breeding site is advanced for both moult scenarios. Timing of
breeding and number of successful broods were also affected by spring advancement, while start of
moult is relatively unaffected by climate change. These optimal solutions under the modelled set of
parameters are discussed with respect to current knowledge of the mechanisms underlying seasonal
timing in birds.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • Annual routines · Climate change · Phenology · Timing of breeding · Bird migration
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-91
JournalClimate Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch