US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Spatial Statistics 18 (2016) 234–245


The effects of climate change have wide-ranging impacts on wildlife species and recent studies indicate that birds’ spring arrival dates are advancing in response to changes in global climates. In this paper, we propose a spatio-temporal approach for comparing avian first arrival data for multiple species. As an example, we analyze spring arrival data for two long-distance migrants (Rubythroated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris; and Purple Martin Progne subis) in eastern North America from 2001–2010 using Citizen Science data. The proposed approach provides researchers with a tool to compare mean arrival dates while accounting for spatial and temporal variability. Our results show that on average, Purple Martins arrive 29.95 to 31.84 days earlier than Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, but after accounting for this overall difference, spatial nuances exist whereby martins arrive earlier in the southern United States and migrate northward at a slower rate than hummingbirds. Differences were also noted in how climate and weather variables such as the North Atlantic Oscillation index, winter temperature, winter–spring precipitation, sampling effort, and altitude impacted migration dates. Our method may easily be generalized to analyze a broad range of temporal and spatial Citizen Scientists data to help better understand the ecological impacts of climate change.