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.
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We thank the Complexity Working Group for conceptual development, J. L. Burnett for help in database creation, and D. Ebbeka and C. Bielski for help with data visualization. This work was supported by Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research Development Program W912HQ-15-C-0018, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission W-125-R-1 and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. The Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is jointly supported by a cooperative agreement between the US Geological Survey, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the University of Nebraska, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Management Institute. Any use of trade, firm or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information: Nature Climate Change thanks Eldar Rakhimberdiev and other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Roberts, C.P., Allen, C.R., Angeler, D.G. et al. Shifting avian spatial regimes in a changing climate. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 562–566 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-019-0517-6
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