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The impact of increased food availability on survival of a long-distance migratory bird

Seward, Adam Michael, Beale, Colin M., Gilbert, Lucy, Jones, Thomas Hefin and Thomas, Robert J. 2013. The impact of increased food availability on survival of a long-distance migratory bird. Ecology 94 (1) , pp. 221-230. 10.1890/12-0121.1

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Abstract

Temperature-, rainfall- and habitat-driven change in food availability is one likely mechanism by which anthropogenic factors may affect animal population dynamics and species distributions. Long-distance migratory birds must synchronize their migrations with food availability at locations hundreds or thousands of kilometers apart, so changes in the overall abundance of food or the phenology of peaks in food availability may be critical factors influencing annual survival. In this study we used experimental food supplementation at a breeding site to examine and compare the impact of changing food supply on annual survival of adult migratory birds and their offspring. We provided supplemental food to Northern Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) breeding on Fair Isle, UK, to infer the sensitivity of annual survival to increases in natural food availability. Food-supplemented wheatears exhibited higher rates of annual survival than control wheatears, and the strength of this effect varied with age. Food supplementation led to 1.56 times higher annual survival of juveniles and 1.22 times higher survival of adults. Survival of juveniles was related to their own food availability as fledglings, but not to whether their parents were food-supplemented or unfed control adults. This increased survival, combined with increased breeding productivity associated with food supplementation, implies that an increase in natural food availability, of the magnitude simulated in our experiment, would increase the population growth rate of wheatears on Fair Isle from approximately λ = 0.93 (a contracting population) to λ = 1.14 (an expanding population).

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords: annual survival, climate change, Fair Isle, UK, food availability, food supplementation experiment, land-use change, migratory birds, Northern Wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe
ISSN: 0012-9658
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 05:14
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/49888

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