Urbanization has a marked effect on the reproduction and other ecological and behavioural traits of many living organisms, including birds. In migrant birds, survival and reproductive output is influenced by the (mis)synchronization of arrival with the availability of resources. Many recent studies have shown that arrival timing is related to temperatures en-route and at destination. Because urban areas are "heat islands", with higher temperatures that influence earlier vegetation and invertebrate development, this should favour earlier arrival of migrant birds to cities rather than to rural areas. In this paper, we analysed differences between urban and rural habitats in mean dates and trends of first arrival dates of 18 species of migratory bird species in western Poland during 1983-2010. For many individual species, and overall, mean first arrival date was significantly earlier in rural areas than in urban areas (significant for 11 species). However, the trend towards earlier first arrival dates was stronger in urban areas for 15 of the 18 species (significantly stronger in four species). Consequently, arrival dates in urban areas are fast approaching, or have now matched or passed those in rural areas. These findings suggest that recent environmental changes may have more rapidly changed the migratory habits of birds occupying urban habitats than those occupying rural habitats.
Bibliographical note© 2013 Tryjanowski et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
- animal migration
- climate change