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A Deeper Statistical Examination of Arrival Dates of Migratory Breeding Birds in Relation to Global Climate Change
Department of Biology, Colby College, 5739 Mayflower Hill Drive, Waterville, ME 04901, USA
Received: 22 November 2012; in revised form: 9 April 2013 / Accepted: 10 April 2013 / Published: 26 April 2013
Abstract: Using an 18-year dataset of arrival dates of 65 species of Maine migratory breeding birds, I take a deeper view of the data to ask questions about the shapes of the distribution. For each year, most species show a consistent right-skewed pattern of distribution, suggesting that selection is stronger against individuals that arrive too early compared to those that arrive later. Distributions are consistently leptokurtic, indicating a narrow window of optimal arrival dates. Species that arrive earlier in the spring show higher skewness and kurtosis values. Nectarivorous species showed more pronounced skewness. Wintering area did not explain patterns of skewness or kurtosis. Deviations from average temperatures and the North Atlantic Oscillation index explained little variation in skewness and kurtosis. When arrival date distributions are broken down into different medians (e.g., 5% median and 75% median), stronger correlations emerge for portions of the distribution that are adjacent, suggesting species fine-tune the progress of their migration. Interspecific correlations for birds arriving around the same time are stronger for earliest migrants (the 25% median) compared to the true median and the 75% median.
Keywords: birds; migration; skewness; kurtosis; arrival dates; weather; climate change; phenology
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Wilson, W.H., Jr. A Deeper Statistical Examination of Arrival Dates of Migratory Breeding Birds in Relation to Global Climate Change. Biology 2013, 2, 742-754.
Wilson WH, Jr. A Deeper Statistical Examination of Arrival Dates of Migratory Breeding Birds in Relation to Global Climate Change. Biology. 2013; 2(2):742-754.
Wilson, W. H., Jr. 2013. "A Deeper Statistical Examination of Arrival Dates of Migratory Breeding Birds in Relation to Global Climate Change." Biology 2, no. 2: 742-754.