Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Shifting avian spatial regimes in a changing climate

Caleb P. Roberts, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Craig R. Allen, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
David G. Angeler, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala & University of Nebraska- Lincoln
Dirac Twidwell, University of Nebraska- Lincoln

Document Type Article Nature Climate Change | VOL 9 562 | JULY 2019 | 562–566 |


In the present era of rapid global change, development of early warnings of ecological regime shifts is a major focus in ecology. Identifying and tracking shifts in spatial regimes is a new approach with potential to enhance understanding of ecological responses to global change. Here, we show strong directional non-stationarity of spatial regimes identified by avian community body mass data. We do this by tracking 46 years of avian spatial regime movement in the North American Great Plains. The northernmost spatial regime boundary moved >590 km northward, and the southernmost boundary moved >260 km northward. Tracking spatial regimes affords decadal planning horizons and moves beyond the predominately temporal early warnings of the past by providing spatiotemporally explicit detection of regime shifts in systems without fixed boundaries.