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1 December 2007 Temperature-associated Dynamics of Songbird Winter Distributions and Abundances
J. Russell Butler, Dena P. MacMynowski, Chad Laurent, Terry L. Root
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Using Christmas Bird Count data, we analyze the annual spatio-temporal abundances of six passerine species in the upper Great Plains, US (1960–1990). This study provides new insight into how global warming could cause separation of species within present-day communities. We find that winter relative abundances of similarly-sized songbirds are differentially affected by ambient winter temperature. As such, average annual winter temperature fluctuations (i.e., severity of winter) are significantly (P < 0.05) correlated with the relative abundances of three species while the other three are not. Our conditional probability-of-occurrence analysis indicates that the abundances of the three temperature-associated species declined markedly below −4°C while the abundances of the other three species fluctuated little from 8°C to −16°C. We conclude that even in colder climates i) the winter distributions of some, but not all, songbirds are directly or indirectly limited by temperature; and ii) these birds have dynamic abundances that can quickly respond to temperature changes.

J. Russell Butler, Dena P. MacMynowski, Chad Laurent, and Terry L. Root "Temperature-associated Dynamics of Songbird Winter Distributions and Abundances," AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 36(8), 657-660, (1 December 2007).[657:TDOSWD]2.0.CO;2
Received: 25 July 2006; Accepted: 1 November 2006; Published: 1 December 2007

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