Climatic Change

, 97:305 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal variation in climate change: a bird’s eye view

  • Joseph J. Fontaine
  • Karie L. Decker
  • Susan K. Skagen
  • Charles van RiperIII


Recent changes in global climate have dramatically altered worldwide temperatures and the corresponding timing of seasonal climate conditions. Recognizing the degree to which species respond to changing climates is therefore an area of increasing conservation concern as species that are unable to respond face increased risk of extinction. Here we examine spatial and temporal heterogeneity in the rate of climate change across western North America and discuss the potential for conditions to arise that may limit the ability of western migratory birds to adapt to changing climates. Based on 52 years of climate data, we show that changes in temperature and precipitation differ significantly between spring migration habitats in the desert southwest and breeding habitats throughout western North America. Such differences may ultimately increase costs to individual birds and thereby threaten the long-term population viability of many species.


Migratory Bird Breeding Location Habitat Category Electronic Supplementary Table Migratory Cycle 

Supplementary material

10584_2009_9644_MOESM1_ESM.doc (255 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 Species with populations that may face differential selection between migratory and breeding locations due to discordance in the rate of climate change (DOC 255 KB)
10584_2009_9644_MOESM2_ESM.doc (78 kb)
Supplementary Table 2 Weather stations (DOC 79 KB)


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Copyright information

© U.S. Geological Survey Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph J. Fontaine
    • 1
  • Karie L. Decker
    • 2
  • Susan K. Skagen
    • 3
  • Charles van RiperIII
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Geological Survey, Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and the School of Natural ResourcesThe University of NebraskaLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and the School of Natural ResourcesThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Geological SurveyFort Collins Science CenterFort CollinsUSA
  4. 4.U.S. Geological Survey, Sonoran Desert Research Station, and the School of Natural ResourcesThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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