Skip to Main Content
Poleward shifts in winter ranges of North American birdsAuthor(s): Frank A. La Sorte; Frank R., III Thompson
Source: Ecology. 88(7): 1803-1812.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (1.07 MB)
DescriptionClimate change is thought to promote the poleward movement of geographic ranges; however, the spatial dynamics, mechanisms, and regional anthropogenic drivers associated with these trends have not been fully explored. We estimated changes in latitude of northern range boundaries, center of occurrence, and center of abundance for 254 species of winter avifauna in North America from 1975 to 2004. After accounting for the effect of range size and the location of the northern boundary, positive latitudinal trends were evident for the northern boundary (1.48 km/yr), center of occurrence (0.45 km/yr), and center of abundance (1.03 km/yr). The northern boundary, when examined across individual species, had the most variable trends (SD = 7.46 km/yr) relative to the center of occurrence (SD = 2.36 km/yr) and center of abundance (SD = 5.57 km/yr). Trends did not differ based on migratory status, but there was evidence that trends differed for species with ranges centered in the southern vs. northern portion of the study area. Species occurred more sporadically over time at northern range boundaries, and northern boundaries were associated with a concentration of colonization and extirpation events, with a greater prevalence of colonization events likely promoting poleward trends. Regional anthropogenic drivers explained ~8% of the trend for the northern boundary, 14% for the center of occurrence, and 18% for the center of abundance; however, these effects were localized in the northern portion of species' ranges and were associated with distributional changes within ranges, primarily abundance, producing patterns that mimicked poleward movements. We conclude that poleward distributional shifts represent the interaction between climate change and regional factors whose outcome is determined by the scale of the analysis and the biotic and abiotic features in the region, and how anthropogenic activities have impacted these features.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationLa Sorte, Frank A.; Thompson, Frank R., III. 2007. Poleward shifts in winter ranges of North American birds. Ecology. 88(7): 1803-1812.
Keywordsabundance, Christmas Bird Count, common species, distribution of avifauna, geographical range, global climate change, North America, temporal turnover, winter range
- Arctic patterned-ground ecosystems: A synthesis of field studies and models along a North American Arctic Transect
- Thermal habitat restricts patterns of occurrence in multiple life-stages of a headwater fish
- Social status, forest disturbance, and Barred Owls shape long-term trends in breeding dispersal distance of Northern Spotted Owls
XML: View XML