Scientific Correspondence | Published:

Climate change related to egg-laying trends

Naturevolume 399page423 (1999) | Download Citation



Analysis of 20 species of UK breeding birds over a 25-year period found a long-term trend towards earlier egg-laying1. Further studies have correlated such trends with spring temperatures (one species)2 or the North Atlantic Oscillation (three species)3. We have studied a data set spanning 57 years and find that laying date is related to temperature or rainfall for 31 of 36 species (86%), and that 53% of species show long-term trends in laying date over time, of which 37% can be statistically accounted for by changes in climate. These data provide evidence for the large-scale impact of rising temperatures on wildlife. Our analysis of a UKCIP98 national-level climate scenario4 predicts that average laying dates will be even earlier for 75% of species by the year 2080.

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  1. British Trust for Ornithology, The National Centre for Ornithology, Thetford, IP24 2PU, Norfolk, UK

    • Humphrey Q. P. Crick
  2. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, PE17 2LS, Cambridgeshire, UK

    • Timothy H. Sparks


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