Royal Society Publishing

Variable responses to large-scale climate change in European Parus populations

E. Visser Marcel , Frank Adriaensen , Johan H. van Balen , Jacques Blondel , André A. Dhondt , Stefan van Dongen , du Feu Chris , Elena V. Ivankina , Anvar B. Kerimov , Jenny de Laet , Erik Matthysen , Robin McCleery , Markku Orell , David L. Thomson


Spring temperatures in temperate regions have increased over the past 20 years and many organisms have responded to this increase by advancing the timing of their growth and reproduction. However, not all populations show an advancement of phenology. Understanding why some populations advance and others do not will give us insight into the possible constraints and selection pressures on the advancement of phenology. By combining two decades of data on 24 populations of tits (Parus sp.) from six European countries, we show that the phenological response to large–scale changes in spring temperature varies across a species' range, even between populations situated close to each other. We show that this variation cannot be fully explained by variation in the temperature change during the pre– and post–laying periods, as recently suggested. Instead, we find evidence for a link between rising temperatures and the frequency of second broods, which results in complex shifts in the laying dates of first clutches. Our results emphasize the need to consider links between different life–history parameters in order to predict the ecological consequences of large–scale climate changes.