A new study shows that seasonal bird migrations are taking place earlier than usual due to climate change.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst reported that migratory birds in the spring season are now crossing stops early more than 20 years ago, after analyzing bird migration data for two decades.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change and attended by several American universities, including the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which published a press release on the study on December 16, is one of the first studies that examined the impact of climate change on the timing of bird migration on the continental scale. .
Bird migration patterns
The research team noted in the study that the temperature and timing of migration are closely parallel. It was found that the greatest changes in the timing of migration occurred more quickly in "warming" areas, but the change in the timing of migration was less visible in the fall season.
The lead researcher, Kyle Horton, from Colorado State University, describes the scope of the research, which observed the behaviors of hundreds of migratory birds at night representing billions of birds, as "extremely important" to understanding and learning more answers to changing migration patterns.
|Seasonal bird migrations are taking place early due to climate change (Bixaby)|
"Seeing changes in the timing of bird migration on continental scales is really impressive, especially given the diversity of behaviors and strategies used by the many types of these birds that are picked up by radars," Horton says, adding that the observed shifts do not necessarily mean that migratory birds accompany climate change.
Andrew Farnsworth, lead author of the study, from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, says the team's research first answered key questions about birds and climate change. Bird migration has "greatly evolved in response to climate change".
Black box of data
"It is a global phenomenon that includes billions of birds annually. It is not surprising that bird movements follow the changing climates. But how bird groups responded in an era of rapid and extreme changes in climate was a black box. Where capturing the scale and scale of migrations in a particular place and time was important Impossible until recently. "
Horton says access to this data and cloud computing greatly enhanced the team's ability to collect results, adding, "Without the cloud computing to process all of this data, it would have taken more than a year of continuous computing," instead the team processed the data in about 48 hours.
Dan Sheldon, an artificial intelligence researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, notes that bird tours have been recorded for decades by the National Weather Service, but until recently this data was out of reach for bird seekers, partly because of the large amount of information and lack of tools Necessary to analyze it.
|The temperature and timing of bird migration are closely parallel (Urik Alt)|
Horton says the lack of change in autumn migration patterns was somewhat surprising, although migration also tends to be more messy during those months.
He explains that in the spring we see a great rush of migratory birds, moving at a somewhat fast pace, to eventually reach the breeding areas, however, during the fall, there is not a lot of pressure to reach the winter lands, and migration tends to move at a slower pace.
He adds that a combination of factors makes autumn migration more difficult to study. In the fall, birds do not compete for mating companions and do not get faster at their destination.
Horton says the results have implications for understanding future bird migration patterns, because birds depend on food and other resources as they travel. In climate change, the timing of flowering plants or the emergence of insects may be out of sync with the passage of migratory birds.
The researchers plan to extend their data analysis to Alaska, where climate change has more serious impacts than in the 48 lower states in the United States.