The University of Alicante confirms that bird migration occurs earlier in the season due to climate change
UA Department of Ecology and Ramón Margalef Institute are involved in the ringing campaign that volunteers and experts perform on the Isle of Tabarca
The willow warbler is one of the most ringed species crossing the sea during spring migrationl.
Alicante. Monday, 18 April 2016
The millions of birds that migrate from Africa, where they spent the winter, to reproduce themselves in different parts of Europe, are gradually moving ahead due to climate change, as stated by lecturer Germán López, from the University of Alicante Department of Ecology and member of the Ramon Margalef Institute. "Migration is little by little anticipating its patterns due to global warming which influences the advancement of spring in Europe and the availability of food for birds”, he adds. This trend has been detected thanks to the ringing campaign that has been carried out by volunteers and experts for eighth years now, from 16 March to 15 May on the isle of Tabarca, where they get to ring a few thousand birds, some of which get back in Europe (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Holland and France, among other countries).
One aspect that is being analysed is "whether a mismatch between bird migration and the conditions they will encounter in breeding areas in Europe is produced," explains UA researcher. "Imagine that due to temperature rise, the new leaves of trees and therefore insects that will serve as food for birds in their breeding will come earlier and let birds no time to advance their journey back to the old continent in the same proportion, "he explains. The result would be that "there were not enough food for chicks, higher mortality of them in nests and populations begin to decline" he said. If confirmed, those birds able to return earlier to their European habitats would dominate the population and thus, migration would begin earlier.
Piccole Isole Project
Tabarca is part of an international project called Piccole Isole, which includes over forty bird banding stations on islands and coastal areas of western Mediterranean, as Columbretes isles (Castellon) and isle of Grosa (Murcia). The UA and a local group of the Spanish Ornothological Society (SEO)//BirdLife in Alicante participate in these banding with the support of the Alicante City Council and the Alicante Port Authority.
Banding volunteers from different Spanish regions, along with other trainees, are doing shifts of fifteen days on the isle, where 376 birds have already been ringed from 16 to 31 March.
This island is located less than 250 kilometers straight line from the coast of Algeria, a stretch that a small insectivorous bird in good physical condition can cross over one night. "There are dozens of birds that make a migratory stop in Tabarca and a different species is detected each year. This season two new species have been ringed so far: the Goldcrest and ring ouzel" Lopez specified.
The most ringed species is the willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), a strict migrant in the Mediterranean widely distributed in Eurasia as a reproductor
In the spring, migration seem to be classified by sex and age: first adult males come by and females, young males and young females go after.