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Title: Intra‐specific variation in migration phenology of American Kestrels ( Falco sparverius ) in response to spring temperatures
Abstract In migratory birds, among- and within-species heterogeneity in response to climate change may be attributed to differences in migration distance and environmental cues that affect timing of arrival at breeding grounds. We used eBird observations and a within-species comparative approach to examine whether migration distance (with latitude as a proxy) and weather predictors can explain spring arrival dates at the breeding site in a raptor species with a widespread distribution and diverse migration strategies, the American Kestrel Falco sparverius. We found an interactive effect between latitude and spring minimum temperatures on arrival dates, whereby at lower latitudes (short-distance migrants) American Kestrels arrived earlier in warmer springs and later in colder springs, but American Kestrels at higher latitudes (long-distance migrants) showed no association between arrival time and spring temperatures. Increased snow cover delayed arrival at all latitudes. Our results support the hypothesis that short-distance migrants are better able to respond to conditions on the breeding ground than are long-distance migrants, suggesting that long-distance migrants may be more vulnerable to shifts in spring conditions that could lead to phenological mismatch between peak resources and nesting.
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