Aarhus Universitets segl

Trends in breeding phenology across ten decades show varying adjustments to environmental changes in four wader species.

New publication by Hans Meltofte, Ole Amstrup, Troels Leuenhagen Petersen, Frank Rigét & Anders P. Tøttrup


Capsule: During 1928–2016, initiation of egg-laying advanced in two wader species, remained unchanged in one, and was delayed in one species. The changes across years and variation among species can be explained by climatic variables and differences in migratory strategies.

Aims: To document possible changes in initiation of egg-laying in common Danish wader species since the early part of the 20th century and seek possible correlations between egg-laying, timing of arrival and environmental factors.

Methods: Annual records of the first eggs and chicks found on the scientific reserve of Tipperne in western Denmark 1928–2016 were analysed using linear regression to determine patterns in timing of egg-laying, pre-breeding length and influence of climate factors.

Results: Two short/medium-distance migrant wader species, Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and Common Redshank Tringa totanus advanced breeding initiation by about one week, with winter North Atlantic oscillation Index and spring temperature as important predictors. By contrast, two long-distance migrants, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa and Ruff Calidris pugnax, did not advance egg-laying, and Ruff actually delaying it. As a result, the pre-laying period was significantly prolonged in both Black-tailed Godwit (21 days) and Ruff (52 days), while there was no significant change for Common Redshank.

Conclusion: Long-distance migrants are able to adjust spring arrival but unlike short/medium-distance migrants, do not necessarily adjust breeding initiation.


Bird Study. Volume 65, 2018 - Issue 1. https://doi.org/10.1080/00063657.2018.1444014