Date: September 6, 2016
Source: University of Oklahoma
A University of Oklahoma study demonstrates for the first time that remote sensing data from weather surveillance radar and on-the-ground data from the eBird citizen science database both yield robust indices of migration timing, also known as migration phenology. These indices can now be used to address the critical gap in our knowledge regarding the cues that migrants use for fine tuning their migration timing in response to climate.
"These scientists combined citizen science observations with data from radar, satellites and weather predictions to understand the cues birds use in their migrations across continents," said Liz Blood, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research through NSF's MacroSystems Biology Program. "The results show that birds migrate in time with warming temperatures in spring and with seasonal changes in the surface of the land, like the leafing-out of trees."
Seasonality of bird migration is shifting in response to climate change and, as a result, birds are arriving at their northern breeding grounds earlier in the spring. The OU study conducted in the eastern United States uses two novel data sources, weather surveillance radar and eBird citizen science data, to build indices of bird migration timing. These indices are innovative and reflect timing of migration of millions of birds of many species over large regions, expanding on more traditional measures of migration timing based on a few individuals of a particular species.