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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 22, 2021

Migratory vertebrates shift migration timing and distributions in a warming Arctic

  • Thomas K. Lameris EMAIL logo , Jeroen Hoekendijk , Geert Aarts , Aline Aarts , Andrew M. Allen , Louise Bienfait , Allert I. Bijleveld , Morten F. Bongers , Sophie Brasseur , Ying-Chi Chan , Frits de Ferrante , Jesse de Gelder , Hilmar Derksen , Lisa Dijkgraaf , Laurens R. Dijkhuis , Sanne Dijkstra , Gert Elbertsen , Roosmarijn Ernsten , Tessa Foxen , Jari Gaarenstroom , Anna Gelhausen , Jan A. van Gils , Sebastiaan Grosscurt , Anne Grundlehner , Marit L. Hertlein , Anouk J.P. van Heumen , Moniek Heurman , Nicholas Per Huffeldt , Willemijn H. Hutter , Ynze J. J. Kamstra , Femke Keij , Susanne van Kempen , Gabi Keurntjes , Harmen Knap , A.H. Jelle Loonstra , Bart A. Nolet , Rascha J.M. Nuijten , Djan Mattijssen , Hanna Oosterhoff , Nienke Paarlberg , Malou Parekh , Jef Pattyn , Celeste Polak , Yordi Quist , Susan Ras , Jeroen Reneerkens , Saskia Ruth , Evelien van der Schaar , Geert Schroen , Fanny Spikman , Joyce van Velzen , Ezra Voorn , Janneke Vos , Danyang Wang , Wilson Westdijk , Marco Wind , Mikhail K. Zhemchuzhnikov and Frank van Langevelde
From the journal Animal Migration


Climate warming in the Arctic has led to warmer and earlier springs, and as a result, many food resources for migratory animals become available earlier in the season, as well as become distributed further northwards. To optimally profit from these resources, migratory animals are expected to arrive earlier in the Arctic, as well as shift their own spatial distributions northwards. Here, we review literature to assess whether Arctic migratory birds and mammals already show shifts in migration timing or distribution in response to the warming climate. Distribution shifts were most prominent in marine mammals, as expected from observed northward shifts of their resources. At least for many bird species, the ability to shift distributions is likely constrained by available habitat further north. Shifts in timing have been shown in many species of terrestrial birds and ungulates, as well as for polar bears. Within species, we found strong variation in shifts in timing and distributions between populations. Ou r review thus shows that many migratory animals display shifts in migration timing and spatial distribution in reaction to a warming Arctic. Importantly, we identify large knowledge gaps especially concerning distribution shifts and timing of autumn migration, especially for marine mammals. Our understanding of how migratory animals respond to climate change appears to be mostly limited by the lack of long-term monitoring studies.


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Received: 2021-06-29
Accepted: 2021-10-10
Published Online: 2021-12-22

© 2021 Thomas K. Lameris et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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