Estimating unbiased phenological trends by adapting site-occupancy models

Roth, Tobias and Strebel, Nicolas and Amrhein, Valentin. (2014) Estimating unbiased phenological trends by adapting site-occupancy models. Ecology, 95 (8). pp. 2144-2154.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/41862/

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As a response to climate warming, many animals and plants have been found to shift phenologies, such as appearance in spring or timing of reproduction. However, traditional measures for shifts in phenology that are based on observational data likely are biased due to a large influence of population size, observational effort, starting date of a survey, or other causes that may affect the probability of detecting a species. Understanding phenological responses of species to climate change, however, requires a robust measure that could be compared among studies and study years. Here, we developed a new method for estimating arrival and departure dates based on site-occupancy models. Using simulated data, we show that our method provided virtually unbiased estimates of phenological events even if detection probability or the number of sites occupied by the species is changing over time. To illustrate the flexibility of our method, we analyzed spring arrival of two long-distance migrant songbirds and the length of the flight period of two butterfly species, using data from a long-term biodiversity monitoring program in Switzerland. In contrast to many birds that migrate short distances, the two long-distance migrant songbirds tended to postpone average spring arrival by ∼0.5 days per year between 1995 and 2012. Furthermore, the flight period of the short-distance-flying butterfly species apparently became even shorter over the study period, while the flight period of the longer-distance-flying butterfly species remained relatively stable. Our method could be applied to temporally and spatially extensive data from a wide range of monitoring programs and citizen science projects, to help unravel how species and communities respond to global warming.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Behavioural Ecology (Amrhein)
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Evolutionary Biology (Ebert)
UniBasel Contributors:Roth, Tobias and Amrhein, Valentin
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Ecological Society of America
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:13 Sep 2016 08:20
Deposited On:13 Sep 2016 08:20

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