Fuelling conditions at staging sites can mitigate Arctic warming effects in a migratory bird

Eldar Rakhimberdiev, Sjoerd Duijns, Julia Karagicheva, Cornelis J. Camphuysen, Anne Dekinga, Rob Dekker, Anatoly Gavrilov, Job ten Horn, Joop Jukema, Anatoly Saveliev, Mikhail Soloviev, T. Lee Tibbitts, Jan A. van Gils, Theunis Piersma, Andre van Loon, Arnold Wijker, Guido Keijl, Henk Levering, Leo Heemskerk, Luc KnijnsbergMarc van Roomen, Paul Ruiters, Piet Admiraal, Piet Veldt, Richard Reijnders, Walter Beentjes, VRS Castricum

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Under climate warming, migratory birds should align reproduction dates with advancing plant and arthropod phenology. To arrive on the breeding grounds earlier, migrants may speed up spring migration by curtailing the time spent en route, possibly at the cost of decreased survival rates. Based on a decades-long series of observations along an entire flyway, we show that when refuelling time is limited, variation in food abundance in the spring staging area affects fitness. Bar-tailed godwits migrating from West Africa to the Siberian Arctic reduce refuelling time at their European staging site and thus maintain a close match between breeding and tundra phenology. Annual survival probability decreases with shorter refuelling times, but correlates positively with refuelling rate, which in turn is correlated with food abundance in the staging area. This chain of effects implies that conditions in the temperate zone determine the ability of godwits to cope with climate-related changes in the Arctic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4263
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15-Oct-2018

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