Different Down-Under: How Australian avian breeding phenology differs relative to the Northern Hemisphere

Daisy  Englert    Duursma (1),    Rachael    Gallagher (2),    Simon    Griffith (3)

1    Macquarie    University,    Department    of    Biological    Sciences, North  Ryde,    NSW    2109,    daisy.duursma@mq.edu.au

2    Macquarie    University,    Department    of    Biological    Sciences, North  Ryde,    NSW    2109,    rachael.gallagher@mq.edu.au

3    Macquarie    University,    Department    of    Biological    Sciences, North  Ryde,    NSW    2109,    simon.griffith@mq.edu.au


Bird      breeding       phenology       is       responding       to      rapidly       changing       climate       conditions.       Knowledge       of       current    phenological    patterns    and    their    rates    of    change    are    important    for    understanding    life-­‐history,    behaviour    and    ecology      of    birds    and    should    be     incorporated    into    conservation    assessments.    Documented    shifts    in    avian    phenology     are   particularly   pronounced     in     the   Northern   Hemisphere.   Recent   reviews   of   changes   in   annual    cycles    of    birds    are    dominated    by    examples    from    Northern    Hemisphere    temperate    regions.    We    collated    and    analysed        245     years      of      breeding      bird      observations      on      the     Australian      continent      and      assessed      the     start,    conclusion,          length,        and        seasonal        density       of        breeding        observations       for        339        Australian        birds       at        the    continental      scale    and    across     five    biomes.          We    show    that    Australian    birds     have    significantly     longer    peak    breeding     periods   than     birds   in     the   Northern     Hemisphere   and     that   peak   breeding   period     timing   and     length    varies      by     biome.    Additionally,    the    thermal    niche    occupied    during     breeding     differs    between    biomes    and,    surprisingly,    desert    species    have    the    second    coldest    thermal    niche.    We    also    demonstrate    novel    techniques    for      assessing     phenological     trends     in     baseline     breeding     periods     using     existing     datasets,     which     could     be    applied         globally.       Based       on       our       Australian       assessment       of       tropical,       subtropical,       grassland,       desert,       and    temperate         regions       we       suggest      that      methods       used       to       assess       climate-­‐induced         changes       from       northern    hemisphere         research      may       not       readily       be       applied      to      other       regions       and     may       not       adequately       address    conservation    needs.


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