[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent advances in spring arrival dates have been reported in many migratory species but the mechanism driving these advances is unknown. As population declines are most widely reported in species that are not advancing migration, there is an urgent need to identify the mechanisms facilitating and constraining these advances. Individual plasticity in timing of migration in response to changing climatic conditions is commonly proposed to drive these advances but plasticity in individual migratory timings is rarely observed. For a shorebird population that has significantly advanced migration in recent decades, we show that individual arrival dates are highly consistent between years, but that the arrival dates of new recruits to the population are significantly earlier now than in previous years. Several mechanisms could drive advances in recruit arrival, none of which require individual plasticity or rapid evolution of migration timings. In particular, advances in nest-laying dates could result in advanced recruit arrival, if benefits of early hatching facilitate early subsequent spring migration. This mechanism could also explain why arrival dates of short-distance migrants, which generally return to breeding sites earlier and have greater scope for advance laying, are advancing more rapidly than long-distance migrants.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 01/2014; 281(1774):20132161. · 5.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The study explored fitness inequalities of energetic trade-offs on Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits wintering across the range. The conditions experienced by Icelandic Godwits (Limosa limosa islandica) at wintering locations throughout their range vary greatly, with important consequences for individual fitness. The costs of thermoregulation and low food availability on some sites can result in a negative energy balance, which is associated with low survival, later arrival in Iceland, and use of poorer-quality breeding sites, even when migration distance and costs are half those of conspecifics from more favorable winter sites.
These photographs illustrate the article “Costs, benefits and fitness consequences of different migratory strategies,” by José A. Alves, Tómas G. Gunnarsson, Daniel B. Hayhow, Graham F. Appleton, Peter M. Potts, William J. Sutherland, and Jennifer A. Gill, tentatively scheduled for publication in Ecology 94(1): 11-17, January 2013. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/12-0737.1
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The relative fitness of individuals across a population can shape distributions and drive population growth rates. Migratory species often winter over large geographic ranges, and individuals in different locations experience very different environmental conditions, including different migration costs, which can potentially create fitness inequalities. Here we used energetics models to quantify the trade-offs experienced by a migratory shorebird species at locations throughout the nonbreeding range, and the associated consequences for migratory performance, survival, and breeding habitat quality. Individuals experiencing more favorable winter conditions had higher survival rates, arrived on the breeding grounds earlier, and occupied better quality breeding areas, even when migration costs are substantially higher, than individuals from locations where the energy balance on the wintering grounds was less favorable. The energy costs and benefits of occupying different winter locations can therefore create fitness inequalities which can shape the distribution and population-wide demography of migratory species.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 1. In migratory species, early arrival on the breeding grounds can often enhance breeding success. Timing of spring migration is therefore a key process that is likely to be influenced both by factors specific to individuals, such as the quality of winter and breeding locations and the distance between them, and by annual variation in weather conditions before and during migration. 2. The Icelandic black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa islandica population is currently increasing and, throughout Iceland, is expanding into poorer quality breeding areas. Using a unique data set of arrival times in Iceland in different years for individuals of known breeding and wintering locations, we show that individuals breeding in lower quality, recently occupied and colder areas arrive later than those from traditionally occupied areas. The population is also expanding into new wintering areas, and males from traditionally occupied winter sites also arrive earlier than those occupying novel sites. 3. Annual variation in timing of migration of individuals is influenced by large-scale weather systems (the North Atlantic Oscillation), but between-individual variation is a stronger predictor of arrival time than the NAO. Distance between winter and breeding sites does not influence arrival times. 4. Annual variation in timing of migration is therefore influenced by climatic factors, but the pattern of individual arrival is primarily related to breeding and winter habitat quality. These habitat effects on arrival patterns are likely to operate through variation in individual condition and local-scale density-dependent processes. Timing of migration thus appears to be a key component of the intricate relationship between wintering and breeding grounds in this migratory system.
Journal of Animal Ecology 10/2006; 75(5):1119-27. · 4.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Iceland is responsible for many internationally important populations of breeding bird species, yet very little is currently known about how these species use the habitats available to them. Lowland areas of Iceland, in particular, have undergone significant landscape changes over the last century, such as widespread drainage of wetlands and conversion to agriculture, changes in grazing pressure and recently, extensive afforestation. The impact of these changes on breeding bird species will depend on the relative importance of different habitats for each species, and the threats facing those habitats. Here we report the results of a large-scale survey of the factors influencing patterns of habitat selection of eight populations of Charadriiform bird species throughout lowland Iceland; oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, golden plover Pluvialis apricaria, dunlin Calidris alpina, snipe Gallinago gallinago, whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa, redshank Tringa totanus and arctic skua Stercorarius parasiticus. Ordination analyses and multiple logistic regression models are constructed to explore the components of habitats that influence the distribution of these species. Five of the eight species analysed showed significant preferences for lowland wetland habitats and four significantly selected areas containing wet features such as pools and high water tables. These results allow us to identify future conflicts in land use that are likely to result from government-supported large-scale afforestation of lowland areas and hydro-electric developments.