Shifts in reproductive phenology due to climate change have been well documented in many species but how, within the same species, other annual cycle stages (e.g., moult, migration) shift relative to the timing of breeding has rarely been studied. When stages shift at different rates, the interval between stages may change resulting in overlaps, and as each stage is energetically demanding, these overlaps may have negative fitness consequences. We used long-term data of a population of European pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) to investigate phenological shifts in three annual cycle stages: spring migration (arrival dates), breeding (egg-laying and hatching dates) and the onset of post-breeding moult. We found different advancements in the timing of breeding compared to moult (moult advances faster) and no advancement in arrival dates. To understand these differential shifts, we explored which temperatures best explain the year-to-year variation in the timing of these stages, and show that they respond differently to temperature increases in the Netherlands, causing the intervals between arrival and breeding and between breeding and moult to decrease. Next, we tested the fitness consequences of these shortened intervals. We found no effect on clutch size, but the probability of a fledged chick to recruit increased with a shorter arrival-breeding interval (earlier breeding). Finally, mark-recapture analyses did not detect an effect of shortened intervals on adult survival. Our results suggest that the advancement of breeding allows more time for fledgling development, increasing their probability to recruit. This may incur costs to other parts of the annual cycle but, despite the shorter intervals, there was no effect on adult survival. Our results show that to fully understand the consequences of climate change, it is necessary to look carefully at different annual cycle stages, especially for organisms with complex cycles, such as migratory birds.
Tomotani, B. M., van der Jeugd, H. P., Gienapp, P., De la Hera, I., Pilzecker, J., Teichmann, C., & Visser, M. E. (2018). Climate change leads to differential shifts in the timing of annual cycle stages in a migratory bird. Global Change Biology, 24(2), 823-835. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14006