Emu Emu Society
Journal of BirdLife Australia
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Climatic variation and breeding in the Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen): a case study using existing data

Heather Gibbs

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Vic. 3125, Australia. Present address: PO Box 2110, Lygon St North, East Brunswick, Vic. 3057, Australia. Email: hgi@deakin.edu.au

Emu 107(4) 284-293 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MU07022
Submitted: 11 April 2007  Accepted: 3 October 2007   Published: 5 December 2007

Abstract

To anticipate the effects of climate change on Australia’s avifauna, it is first necessary to understand the current effects of climate (including climate variability) on life histories, and to examine the scope and nature of existing data that may provide the necessary historical context to anticipate the effects of climate change. This study examines naturally occurring geographical gradients (altitude, latitude) and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) as integrated measures of climate. These are then compared with the timing and ‘amount’ of breeding recorded for the Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) using data from Birds Australia’s Nest Record Scheme and Atlas of Australian Birds, the NSW Bird Atlassers Inc.’s NSW Bird Atlas, and the Canberra Ornitholgists Group’s Garden Bird Survey. For this common, easily identified species, these data suggest links between Australian Magpie breeding and all three environmental variables. Breeding became later as altitude increased, the proportion of breeding records increased from north to south, and years of high SOI corresponded to more (and earlier) breeding in this species. That annual climatic fluctuations have a direct, immediate and substantial effect on breeding in the Australian Magpie, particularly on the amount of breeding that occurs, implies that longer term changes in climate will have substantial impacts on populations. Results were not solely temperature-driven, which makes predicting climate change impacts difficult. For rainfall, predictions are far less precise and regional variation is higher. The results also highlight the potential and limitations of current survey techniques for documenting the impacts of climate change on birds; in particular, the Nest Record Scheme does not measure the amount of breeding that occurs, but a useful index of this can be derived from bird atlassing data.

Additional keywords: altitude, Australia, birds, climate, ENSO, latitude, methodology, phenology, rainfall, SOI, survey, temperature.


References

Badyaev A. V. Ghalambor C. K. 2001 Evolution of life histories along elevational gradients: trade-off between parental care and fecundity. Ecology 82 2948 2960

Barrett G., Silcocks A., Cunningham R., and Poulter R. (2002a). ‘Comparison of Atlas 1 (1977–1981) and Atlas 2 (1998–2001): Supplementary Report No. 1.’ Unpublished Report to Natural Heritage Trust (CD-ROM) (Birds Australia, Melbourne). Available at http://www.birdsaustralia.com.au/atlas/index.html [Verified 13 November 2007]

Barrett G., Silcocks A., and Poulter R. (2002b). ‘Australian Bird Atlas 1998–2001 Main Report To Environment Australia.’ Unpublished Report to Natural Heritage Trust (CD-ROM) (Birds Australia, Melbourne). Available at
http://www.birdsaustralia.com.au/atlas/index.html [Verified 13 November 2007]

Barrett G., Silcocks A., Barry S., Cunningham R., and Poulter R. (2003). ‘New Atlas of Australian Birds.’ (Birds Australia: Melbourne.)

Beaumont L. J. McAllan I. A. W. Hughes L. 2006 A matter of timing: changes in the first date of arrival and last date of departure of Australian migratory birds. Global Change Biology 12 1339 1354 DOI

Bedggood G. W. 1973 Birds of the Caniambo district, Victoria. Australian Bird Watcher 5 12 22

Browne S. J. Aebischer N. J. Crick H. P. 2005 Breeding ecology of Turtle Doves Streptopelia turtur in Britain during the period 1941–2000: an analysis of BTO nest record cards. Bird Study 52 1 9


Bunce A. Norman F. I. Brothers N. Gales R. 2002 Long-term trends in the Australasian gannet (Morus serrator) population in Australia: the effect of climate change and commercial fisheries. Marine Biology 141 263 269
DOI

Carrick R. (1972). Population ecology of the Australian black-backed magpie, royal penguin, and silver gull. In ‘Population ecology of migratory birds – A symposium’. Wildlife Research Report 4. pp. 41–99 (U.S. Department of the Interior: Washington, DC.)

Chambers L. E. (2004). The impact of climate on Little Penguin breeding success. BMRC Research Report No. 100, Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne.

Chambers L. E. 2005 Migration dates at Eyre Bird Observatory: links with climate change? Climate Research 29 157 165 DOI

Chambers L. E. Loyn R. H. 2006 The influence of climate on numbers of three waterbird species in Western Port, Victoria, 1973–2002. International Journal of Biometeorology 50 292 304 DOI

Chambers L. E. Hughes L. Weston M. A. 2005 Climate change and its impact on Australia’s avifauna. Emu 105 1 20 DOI

Cooper R. M., and McAllan I. A. W. (1995). ‘The Birds of Western New South Wales: A Preliminary Atlas.’ (NSW Bird Atlassers Inc.: Albury.)

Crick H. Q. P. Sparks T. H. 1999 Climate change related to egg-laying trends. Nature 399 423 424 DOI

Crick H. Q. P. Dudley C. Glue D. E. Thomson D. L. 1997 UK birds are laying eggs earlier. Nature 388 526 DOI

CSIRO (2001). ‘Climate Change: Projections for Australia.’ (CSIRO Climate Impact Group: Melbourne.) Available at http://www.cmar.csiro.au/e-print/open/projections2001.pdf [Verified 13 November 2007]

Davies S. J. J. F. 1979 The breeding seasons of birds in south-western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 62 53 64

Dingle H. Rochester W. A. Zalucki M. P. 2000 Relationships among climate, latitude and migration: Australian butterflies are not temperate-zone birds. Oecologia 124 196 207
DOI

Drosdowsky W., and Chambers L. E. (1998). Near global sea surface temperature anomalies as predictors of Australian seasonal rainfall. BMRC Research Report No. 65, Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne.

Fielding C. A. Whittaker J. B. Butterfield J. E. L. Coulson J. C. 1999 Predicting responses to climate change: the effect of altitude and latitude on the phenology of the Spittlebug Neophilaenus lineatus. Functional Ecology 13 65 73 DOI

Frith H. J. (1984). 1984 Birds in the Australian High Country. Rev. Ed. (Angus and Robertson: Sydney).

Galloway R. W. (1988). The potential impact of climate changes on Australian ski fields. In ‘Greenhouse: Planning for Climate Change’. (Ed. G. Pearman.) pp. 428–437. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Grant P. R. Grant B. R. 1987 The extraordinary El Niño event of 1982–1983 effects on Darwin’s Finches on Isla Genovesa Galapagos Ecuador. Oikos 49 55 66 DOI

Green K., and Pickering C. M. (2002). scenario for mammal and bird diversity in the Snowy Mountains of Australia in relation to climate change. In ‘Global Mountain Biodiversity: Changes and Threats’. (Eds C. Korner and E. Spehn.) pp. 241–249. (Springer-Verlag, Berlin.)

Griffioen P. (2001). Temporal changes in the distribution of bird species in eastern Australia. Ph.D. Thesis, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Vic.

Higgins P. J., Peters J. M., and Cowling S. J. (Eds) (2006). ‘Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Vol. 7: Boatbill to Starlings.’ (Oxford University Press: Melbourne.)

Hoffmann R. S. (1974). Terrestrial vertebrates. In ‘Arctic and Alpine Environments’. (Eds J. D. Ives and R. G. Barry.) pp. 475–568. (Methuen, London.)

Hughes L. 2003 Climate change and Australia: trends, projections and impacts. Austral Ecology 28 423 443 DOI

Kalmbach E. Ramsay S. C. Wendeln H. Becker P. H. 2001 A study of Neotropic Cormorants in central Chile: Possible effects of El Niño. Waterbirds 24 345 351

Lu X. 2005 Reproductive ecology of blackbirds (Turdus merula maximus) in a high-altitude location, Tibet. Journal für Ornithologie 146 72 78
DOI

Maher W. J. 1970 The Pomarine Jaeger as a brown lemming predator in northern Alaska. Wilson Bulletin 82 130 157

Marchant S. 1974 Analysis of nest-records of the Willie Wagtail. Emu 74 149 160


Marchant S. Fullager P. J. 1983 Nest records of the Welcome Swallow. Emu 83 66 74


Masello J. F. Quillfeldt P. 2003 Body size, body condition and ornamental feathers of Burrowing Parrots: variation between years and sexes, assortative mating and influences on breeding success. Emu 103 149 161
DOI

Mazerolle D. F. Dufour K. W. Hobson K. A. den Haan H. E. 2005 Effects of large-scale climatic fluctuations on survival and production of young in a Neotropical migrant songbird, the yellow warbler Dendroica petechia. Journal of Avian Biology 36 155 163 DOI

McKelvey K., Noon B. R., and Lamberson R. H. (1993). Conservation planning for species occupying fragmented landscapes: the case of the Northern Spotted Owl. In ‘Biotic Interactions and Global Change’. (Eds P. M. Kareiva, J. G. Kingsolver and R. B. Huey.) pp. 424–450. (Sinauer Assoc. Inc.: Sunderland, MA.)

McLean I. G. Recher H. F. Studholme B. J. S. Given A. Duncan C. 2005 Breeding success and timing of nesting by forest birds on northern tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. Corella 29 53 62

Norman F. I. Nicholls N. 1991 The Southern Oscillation and variations in waterfowl abundance in southeastern Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 16 485 490
DOI

Norment C. J. Green K. 2004 Breeding ecology of Richard’s Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) in the Snowy Mountains, Australia. Emu 104 327 336 DOI

Nott M. P. DeSante D. F. Siegel R. B. Pyle P. 2002 Influences of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation on avian productivity in forests of the Pacific Northwest of North America. Global Ecology and Biogeography 11 333 342 DOI

Parmesan C. Yohe G. 2003 A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature 421 37 42 DOI

Pitelka F. A. Tomich P. Q. Treichel G. W. 1955 Ecological relations of jaegers and owls as lemming predators near Barrow, Alaska. Ecological Monographs 25 85 117 DOI

Pittock B. (2003). ‘Climate change: An Australian Guide to the Science and Potential Impacts.’ (Australian Greenhouse Office: Canberra.)

Post E. Stenseth N. C. 1999 Climatic variability, plant phenology, and northern ungulates. Ecology 80 1322 1329

Przybylo R. Sheldon B. C. Merila J. 2000 Climatic effect on breeding and morphology: evidence for phenotypic plasticity. Journal of Animal Ecology 69 395 403
DOI

Robinson A. 1956 The annual reproductory cycle of the magpie, Gymnorhina dorsalis Campbell, in south-western Australia. Emu 56 235 336

Robinson R. A. Baillie S. R. Crick H. Q. P. 2007 Weather-dependent survival: implications of climate change for passerine population processes. Ibis 149 357 364
DOI

Rollinson D. J. (2004). Synanthropy of the Australian magpie: a comparison of populations in rural and suburban areas of southeast Queensland, Australia. Ph.D. Thesis, Griffith University, Nathan, Qld.

Sandvik H. Erikstad K. E. Barrett R. T. Yoccoz N. G. 2005 The effect of climate on adult survival in five species of North Atlantic seabirds. Journal of Animal Ecology 74 817 831 DOI

Smithers B. V. Peck D. R. Krockenberger A. K. Congdon B. C. 2003 Elevated sea-surface temperature, reduced provisioning and reproductive failure of wedge-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) in the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 54 973 977 DOI

Stenseth N.C. Ottersen G. Hurrell J.W. Mysterud A. Lima M. Chan K.-S. Yoccoz N.G. Dlandsvik B.A.Ê 2003 Studying climate effects on ecology through the use of climate indices: the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Niño Southern Oscillation and beyond. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 270 2087 2096 DOI

Thompson A. L. 1950 Factors determining the breeding seasons of birds: an introductory review. Ibis 92 173 184

Tryjanowski P. Flux J. E. C. Sparks T. H. 2006 Date of breeding of the starling Sturnus vulgaris in New Zealand is related to El Niño Southern Oscillation. Austral Ecology 31 634 637
DOI

Veerman P. A. (2003). ‘Canberra Birds: A Report on the First 21 Years of the Garden Bird Survey.’ (Author: Canberra.)

Yue S. Pilon P. Phinney B. Cavadias G. 2002 The influence of autocorrelation on the ability to detect trend in hydrological series. Hydrological Processes 16 1807 1829 DOI


Full Text PDF (644 KB) Export Citation