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Climate change has advanced the breeding dates of many bird species, but for few species we know whether this advancement is sufficient to track the advancement of the underlying levels of the food chain. For the long-distance migratory pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca the advancement in breeding time has been insufficient to maintain the synchrony with their main food sources. The timing of arrival in the breeding areas from their African wintering grounds is likely to constrain the advancement of breeding date. We hypothesise that this is because in Africa they cannot predict the advancement of spring in their breeding habitat. However, long-distance migrants may advance their arrival time by migrating faster when circumstances en route are favourable. In this study we show that both arrival and breeding date depend on temperatures at their main North African staging grounds, as well as on temperature at the breeding grounds. Male arrival and average laying date were not correlated, but the positive effect of temperature in North Africa on breeding dates suggests that breeding date is indeed constrained by arrival of females. Long-distance migrants thus are able to adjust arrival and hence breeding by faster spring migration, but the degree of adjustment is probably limited as timing schedules in spring are tight. Furthermore, as climate change is affecting temperatures differently along the migratory flyway and the breeding areas, it is unlikely that arrival dates are advanced at the same rate as the timing of breeding should advance, given the advancement of the underlying levels of the food chain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-373
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2005

ID: 342679