I am a ornithologist working in Japan and I'm trying to translate a Japanese word, "経年" "けいねん" pronounced "ke i nen", which means change over time or aging but since my English skills are not where they used to be. I am stumped on what word choices to use for changes over time. It's closest to Temporal Change maybe? Temporal is change with time but can it mean change over time as well? Any clue?

The word should fit in this sentence:

The changes over time of nesting sites and population size...

  • 1
    Can you give an example sentence where you would use the expression? Otherwise this question is likely to be closed.
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 0:47
  • Thats difficult but ill try. The changes over time of nesting sites and population size.
    – Ryoh
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 1:32
  • I don't think you have given us enough context here. Variations over time are often described as fluctuation - but that might be too narrow for your purpose. Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 4:40
  • @michael.hor257k, my apologies. Its difficult to explain. The sentence "Analysis of the changes over time in nesting area and prey items" is maybe the best example of the sentence I need to use. But I was not sure if there was a term I could use in place of changes over time.
    – Ryoh
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 5:06
  • I agree that you’ve provided too little context / subtext to give an answer.  Have you looked at “progression”, “procession” or “variation”? If they don’t work for you, and you edit your question to explain why, that might help us figure out what you want. Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 1:00

1 Answer 1


Since this is in the domain of biology, the word might be evolve. Evolve (v.): to change or develop slowly often into a better, more complex, or more advanced state. [ref] Example: The North-American crows have evolved to adapt to urbanization.

To describe a change over time of a part of an animal (e.g. beak), you can try the word morph. Example: The wings of these birds morphed over millenniums as atmospheric pressure changes.

To describe a change in habitat location over time, you can try the word shift. Example: After Seattle became a city, the Pacific wren and the Swainson’s thrush shifted their habitat. [ref]

Suggestion after asker added an example: trend. Example: The trend of population size over the last decade.

  • Sorry Koi, evolve doesnt work I just posted an example. I think I will go with the "temporal change". This is the frustration with tranlating one language into another. There doesnt seem to be an exact translation.
    – Ryoh
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 1:34
  • From the example you just gave, "trends" might work. I think "trends" will work great with population size, but for nesting sites, I would use "shifts". So, "The shifts of nesting sites and trends of population size ... ".
    – Koi Nil
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 1:53
  • Trends might actually work. Writinig a paper is one thing but you can get lost translating from one language into another. Thanks for your help. Truly appreciate it.
    – Ryoh
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 2:00
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    @Ryoh A slight change to evolve would certainly fit your example sentence: the evolution of nesting sites and population size . . . Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 3:08
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    @Mr. Bassford. Evolve would imply to some type of development over time. A plus or minus progression. The word I am searching for would be used in place of "over time" in "Changes over time." Another example." Analyze the changes over time in breeding habitat and prey items." I dont think I can change that sentence into "Analyze the evolution in/of breeding habitat and prey items." Maybe its the way we use the word "Evolve". It just implies the "gradual progression" so strong. Its a fantastic word though. Thank you very much for your efforts on this Mr. Bassford.
    – Ryoh
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 4:12

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