Arctic amplification, the accelerated climate warming in the polar regions, is causing a more rapid advancement of the onset of spring in the Arctic than in temperate regions. Consequently, the arrival of many migratory birds in the Arctic is thought to become increasingly mismatched with the onset of local spring, consequently reducing individual fitness and potentially even population levels. We used a dynamic state variable model to study whether Arctic long-distance migrants can advance their migratory schedules under climate warming scenarios which include Arctic amplification, and whether such an advancement is constrained by fuel accumulation or the ability to anticipate climatic changes. Our model predicts that barnacle geese Branta leucopsis suffer from considerably reduced reproductive success with increasing Arctic amplification through mistimed arrival, when they cannot anticipate a more rapid progress of Arctic spring from their wintering grounds. When geese are able to anticipate a more rapid progress of Arctic spring, they are predicted to advance their spring arrival under Arctic amplification up to 44 days without any reproductive costs in terms of optimal condition or timing of breeding. Negative effects of mistimed arrival on reproduction are predicted to be somewhat mitigated by increasing summer length under warming in the Arctic, as late arriving geese can still breed successfully. We conclude that adaptation to Arctic amplification may rather be constrained by the (un)predictability of changes in the Arctic spring than by the time available for fuel accumulation. Social migrants like geese tend to have a high behavioural plasticity regarding stopover site choice and migration schedule, giving them the potential to adapt to future climate changes on their flyway.
Lameris, T. K., Scholten, I., Bauer, S., Cobben, M. M. P., Ens, B. J., & Nolet, B. A. (2017). Potential for an Arctic-breeding migratory bird to adjust spring migration phenology to Arctic amplification. Global Change Biology, 23(10), 4058-4067. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13684