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Shifts in crane migration phenology associated with climate change in southwestern Europe

AuthorsOrellana-Macías, José M.; Bautista, Luis M. ; Merchán, Daniel; Causapé, Jesús; Alonso López, Juan C.
KeywordsCommon Crane
Gallocanta Lake
Global Warming
Grus grus
Issue Date2020
PublisherResilience Alliance
CitationAvian Conservation and Ecology
AbstractGallocanta lagoon, NE Spain, is one of the main stopover and wintering areas of Common Cranes (Grus grus) migrating through Western Europe. We investigated how the water level of the lagoon where cranes roost, precipitation, and air temperature might have influenced the species’ migration and wintering patterns in this area between 1973 and 2018. Over the study period, the mean annual air temperature increased at 0.3 °C per decade. Simultaneously, cranes advanced the spring peak migration date at a rate of 0.37 days/year. Water level and rainfall during spring were also positively correlated with the date of spring migration peak. Because cranes need shallow water to roost, and must drink water from streams because the lagoon is saline, these correlations suggest that low water levels at roosting sites and drinking water shortage may have further accelerated the onset of northward spring migration. The water level was also positively correlated with peak crane numbers in autumn, suggesting that the roosting capacity of the lagoon may limit numbers of cranes that can stopover in the area. We conclude that global warming, variations in the water level of the lagoon, and precipitation during spring have determined changes in the use of Gallocanta as a staging and wintering area by Common Cranes during the last decades. Because climatic models predict further decreases in rainfall and higher temperatures in the area, further advances in the migration phenology of cranes should be expected, which might also have implications for the conservation and management of the species and the study area.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.5751/ACE-01565-150116
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