, Volume 184, Issue 4, pp 917–929 | Cite as

Advancement of spring arrival in a long-term study of a passerine bird: sex, age and environmental effects

  • Luis Cadahía
  • Antonieta Labra
  • Endre Knudsen
  • Anna Nilsson
  • Helene M. Lampe
  • Tore Slagsvold
  • Nils Chr. Stenseth
Global change ecology – original research


In migratory birds, mistimed arrival might have negative consequences for individual fitness, causing population declines. This may happen if arrival time is not synchronized with breeding time, especially when earlier springs favour earlier reproduction. We studied spring arrival time to the breeding areas in a pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca population in southern Norway during a 30-year period (1985–2014). We investigated trends in arrival both for the entire population and for different population fractions (e.g. early vs. late arrivals). We also studied sex and age class differences, along with repeatability of arrival. Finally, we explored how arrival is influenced by environmental conditions at the areas birds use throughout the year, using mixed-effects models and quantile regressions with individual-based data. Spring arrival advanced over five days, at a similar rate through the entire population. Males and adult birds arrived earlier than females and yearlings. Arrival was significantly repeatable for males and females. Birds arrived earlier in years with high temperature and rainfall at the breeding grounds, and low NDVI both on the Iberian Peninsula and in central Europe. Later fractions of the population showed a steeper response to these environmental variables. This intra-population heterogeneity in the responses to the environment probably stems from a combination between the different selection pressures individuals are subject to and their age-related experience. Our results highlight the importance of studying how migration phenology is affected by the environment not only on the breeding grounds but also on the other areas birds use throughout the year.


Mixed-effects models NAO NDVI Phenology Protandry Quantile regression Rainfall Repeatability Temperature 



The authors are indebted to Anders Herland and the many master and PhD students that helped collecting the data, and to Arthur Bass for collaborating in digitizing and organizing the information. L.C. was funded by EU’s PEOPLE Programme (Marie Curie Actions), grant agreement number 255326. Yngvild Vindenes, Andreas Lindén and Andrew Beckerman helped with statistical analyses. Jan Ohlberger, Morten Helberg and Øystein Langangen provided fruitful discussions. Christiaan Both, Blair Wolf and an anonymous reviewer significantly helped improve the manuscript.

Author contribution statement

LC, AL, AN, HML, TS and NCS conceived the idea. HML and TS conducted fieldwork. EK analysed part of the data. LC analysed the rest of data and did the statistical modelling. LC, AL, EK and AN wrote the manuscript. HML, TS and NCS provided editorial advice.

Supplementary material

442_2017_3922_MOESM1_ESM.docx (6.9 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 7110 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Cadahía
    • 1
  • Antonieta Labra
    • 1
    • 2
  • Endre Knudsen
    • 1
  • Anna Nilsson
    • 1
  • Helene M. Lampe
    • 1
  • Tore Slagsvold
    • 1
  • Nils Chr. Stenseth
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biosciences, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES)University of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Facultad de MedicinaUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile

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