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Conserv Biol. 2007 Apr;21(2):534-9.

Breeding distributions of north American bird species moving north as a result of climate change.

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Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA 70504-2451, USA.


Geographic changes in species distributions toward traditionally cooler climes is one hypothesized indicator of recent global climate change. We examined distribution data on 56 bird species. If global warming is affecting species distributions across the temperate northern hemisphere, these data should show the same northward range expansions of birds that have been reported for Great Britain. Because a northward shift of distributions might be due to multidirectional range expansions for multiple species, we also examined the possibility that birds with northern distributions may be expanding their ranges southward. There was no southward expansion of birds with a northern distribution, indicating that there is no evidence of overall range expansion of insectivorous and granivorous birds in North America. As predicted, the northern limit of birds with a southern distribution showed a significant shift northward (2.35 km/year). This northward shift is similar to that observed in previous work conducted in Great Britain: the widespread nature of this shift in species distributions over two distinct geographical regions and its coincidence with a period of global warming suggests a connection with global climate change.

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