Bird populations most exposed to climate change are less sensitive to climatic variation

Liam D. Bailey* (Corresponding author), Martijn van de Pol, Frank Adriaensen, Aneta Arct, Emilio Barba, Paul E. Bellamy, Suzanne Bonamour, Jean Charles Bouvier, Malcolm D. Burgess, Anne Charmantier, Camillo Cusimano, Blandine Doligez, Szymon M. Drobniak, Anna Dubiec, Marcel Eens, Tapio Eeva, Peter N. Ferns, Anne E. Goodenough, Ian R. Hartley, Shelley A. HinsleyElena Ivankina, Rimvydas Juškaitis, Bart Kempenaers, Anvar B. Kerimov, Claire Lavigne, Agu Leivits, Mark C. Mainwaring, Erik Matthysen, Jan Åke Nilsson, Markku Orell, Seppo Rytkönen, Juan Carlos Senar, Ben C. Sheldon, Alberto Sorace, Martyn J. Stenning, János Török, Kees van Oers, Emma Vatka, Stefan J.G. Vriend, Marcel E. Visser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


The phenology of many species shows strong sensitivity to climate change; however, with few large scale intra-specific studies it is unclear how such sensitivity varies over a species’ range. We document large intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity to temperature using laying date information from 67 populations of two co-familial European songbirds, the great tit (Parus major) and blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), covering a large part of their breeding range. Populations inhabiting deciduous habitats showed stronger phenological sensitivity than those in evergreen and mixed habitats. However, populations with higher sensitivity tended to have experienced less rapid change in climate over the past decades, such that populations with high phenological sensitivity will not necessarily exhibit the strongest phenological advancement. Our results show that to effectively assess the impact of climate change on phenology across a species’ range it will be necessary to account for intra-specific variation in phenological sensitivity, climate change exposure, and the ecological characteristics of a population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2112
Pages (from-to)2112
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Animals
  • Climate Change
  • Passeriformes
  • Seasons
  • Songbirds
  • Temperature


Dive into the research topics of 'Bird populations most exposed to climate change are less sensitive to climatic variation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this