Projecting the fates of populations under climate change is one of global change biology's foremost challenges. Here, we seek to identify the contributions that temperature-mediated local adaptation and plasticity make to spatial variation in nesting phenology, a phenotypic trait showing strong responses to warming. We apply a mixed modeling framework to a Britain-wide spatiotemporal dataset comprising 〉100 000 records of first egg dates from four single-brooded passerine bird species. The average temperature during a specific time period (sliding window) strongly predicts spatiotemporal variation in lay date. All four species exhibit phenological plasticity, advancing lay date by 2–5 days °C −1 . The initiation of this sliding window is delayed further north, which may be a response to a photoperiod threshold. Using clinal trends in phenology and temperature, we are able to estimate the temperature sensitivity of selection on lay date ( B ), but our estimates are highly sensitive to the temporal position of the sliding window. If the sliding window is of fixed duration with a start date determined by photoperiod, we find B is tracked by phenotypic plasticity. If, instead, we allow the start and duration of the sliding window to change with latitude, we find plasticity does not track B , although in this case, at odds with theoretical expectations, our estimates of B differ across latitude vs. longitude. We argue that a model combining photoperiod and mean temperature is most consistent with current understanding of phenological cues in passerines, the results from which suggest that each species could respond to projected increases in spring temperatures through plasticity alone. However, our estimates of B require further validation.
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering