Thomas E. Martin's research while affiliated with University of Montana and other places

Publications (186)

Article
Advances in understanding geographic patterns of life history variation depend on documentation of life history traits for species in poorly studied regions. In the tropics, most species have not had their life history traits described. We compared the reproductive biology of two closely related Muscicapids, the Bornean Whistling-Thrush (Myophonus...
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A longstanding issue in biology is whether the intelligence of animals can be predicted by absolute or relative brain size. However, progress has been hampered by an insufficient understanding of how neuron numbers shape internal brain organization and cognitive performance. On the basis of estimations of neuron numbers for 111 bird species, we sho...
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Many ecological processes are profoundly influenced by abiotic factors, such as temperature and snow. However, despite strong evidence linking shifts in these ecological processes to corresponding shifts in abiotic factors driven by climate change, the mechanisms connecting population size to season‐specific climate drivers are little understood. U...
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Maternal hormones can shape offspring development and increase survival when predation risk is elevated. In songbirds, yolk androgens influence offspring growth and begging behaviors which can help mitigate offspring predation risk in the nest. Other steroids may also be important for responding to nest predation risk, but non-androgen steroids hav...
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Understanding variation in offspring energy expenditure is important because energy is critical for growth and development. Weather may exert proximate effects on offspring energy expenditure, but in altricial species these might be masked by parental care and huddling with siblings. Such effects are particularly important to understand given chang...
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For species with declining populations across their range, such as Lewis’s Woodpeckers (Melanerpes lewis), understanding habitat selection and its influence on reproductive outcomes are critical for effective management, especially in human-modified landscapes. We identified factors associated with habitat selection by Lewis’s Woodpeckers in the fl...
Article
Spatial dispersion and movement behaviour of siblings vary across animal taxa and can affect fitness. The factors underlying why species differ in movement behaviour of young and why some species form family groups while other species have dispersed young have been rarely addressed. We tested a hypothesis that siblings should be more dispersed in s...
Article
Most animals have complex life cycles including metamorphosis or other discrete life stage transitions, during which individuals may be particularly vulnerable to environmental stressors. With climate change, individuals will be exposed to increasing thermal and hydrologic variability during metamorphosis, which may affect survival and performance...
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Parents faced with a predator must choose between their own safety versus taking care of their offspring. Each choice can have fitness costs. Life-history theory predicts that longer-lived species should be less willing than shorter-lived species to return to care for their offspring after a predator disturbance because they have more opportunities...
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Droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity with climate change. Population impacts of such harsh environmental events are theorized to vary with life history strategies among species. However, existing demographic models generally do not consider behavioural plasticity that may modify the impact of harsh events. Here we show that t...
Article
Body size evolution is generally framed by the benefits of being large, while costs are largely overlooked. An important putative cost of being large is the need to extend development periods, which should increase exposure to predation and potentially select against larger size. In birds, this selection pressure can be important because predation...
Article
Developmental responses can help young animals reduce predation risk but can also yield costs to performance and survival in subsequent life stages with major implications for lifetime fitness. Compensatory mechanisms may evolve to offset such costs, but evidence from natural systems is largely lacking. In songbirds, increased nest predation risk s...
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Life history theory in ornithology has been mostly based on temperate birds in part because a relative paucity of biological data has been described for tropical species. Expanding our knowledge about life histories of tropical birds can help us to better understand global trends in life history strategies. To aid in this endeavor, we studied Mount...
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Metabolism is thought to mediate the connection between environmental selection pressures and a broad array of life history tradeoffs, but tests are needed. High juvenile predation correlates with fast growth, which may be achieved via fast juvenile metabolism. Fast offspring metabolism and growth can create physiological costs later in life that s...
Article
Organisms living at high elevations generally grow and develop more slowly than those at lower elevations. Slow montane ontogeny is thought to be an evolved adaptation to harsh environments that improves juvenile quality via physiological trade-offs. However, slower montane ontogeny may also reflect proximate influences of harsh weather on parental...
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Survival rates vary dramatically among species and predictably across latitudes, but causes of this variation are unclear. The rate-of-living hypothesis posits that physiological damage from metabolism causes species with faster metabolic rates to exhibit lower survival rates. However, whether increased survival commonly observed in tropical and so...
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Physiological tolerances and biotic interactions along habitat gradients are thought to influence species occurrence. Distributional differences caused by such forces are particularly noticeable on tropical mountains, where high species turnover along elevational gradients occurs over relatively short distances and elevational distributions of part...
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In cooperatively breeding animals, genetic relatedness among group members often determines the extent of reproductive sharing, cooperation and competition within a group. Studies of species for which cooperative behaviour is not entirely based on kinship are key for understanding the benefits favouring the evolution and maintenance of cooperative...
Article
Individuals should prefer and use habitats that confer high fitness, but habitat use is not always adaptive. Vegetation in natural landscapes changes gradually and the ability of species to adaptively adjust their habitat use to long-term changes is largely unstudied. We studied nest patch and territory use over 28 yr in Orange-crowned Warblers (Or...
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Birds with altricial offspring need to feed them regularly, but each feeding visit risks drawing attention to the nest and revealing its location to potential predators. Synchronisation of visits by both parents has been suggested as a behavioural adaptation to reduce the risk of nest predation. Under this hypothesis, higher risk of nest predation...
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Understanding how biotic and abiotic interactions influence community assembly and composition is a fundamental goal in community ecology. Addressing this issue is particularly tractable along elevational gradients in tropical mountains that feature substantial abiotic gradients and rates of species turnover. We examined elevational patterns of avi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Survival rates vary dramatically among species and predictably across latitudes, but causes of this variation are unclear. The rate of living hypothesis posits that physiological damage from metabolism causes species with faster metabolic rates to exhibit lower survival rates. However, whether increased survival commonly observed in tropical and so...
Article
1.Offspring mortality varies dramatically among species with critical demographic and evolutionary ramifications, yet the causes of this variation remain unclear. Nests are widely used for breeding across taxa and thought to influence offspring mortality risk. Traditionally, more complex, enclosed nest structures are thought to reduce offspring pre...
Article
We provide a detailed breeding biology account for the Grey-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucophrys) and a comparison of the reproductive life history of tropical and temperate wrens using literature data. We conducted this study at Yacambú National Park in Venezuela from 2002 to 2008. Clutch size was 1.99 (SE 0.01) and fresh egg mass was 2.35 g...
Article
High predation risk can favor rapid offspring development at the expense of offspring quality. Impacts of rapid development on phenotypic quality should be most readily expressed in traits that minimize fitness costs. We hypothesize that ephemeral traits that are replaced or repaired after a short period of life might express trade-offs in quality...
Article
We provide a detailed breeding biology account for the Grey-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucophrys) and a comparison of the reproductive life history of tropical and temperate wrens using literature data. We conducted this study at Yacambú National Park in Venezuela from 2002 to 2008. Clutch size was 1.99 (SE 0.01) and fresh egg mass was 2.35 g...
Article
Interspecific competition is hypothesized to be a strong force that sets species range limits and drives parapatric distributions of closely related species on tropical mountains. Yet, experimental evidence that competition drives spatial segregation of closely related species on elevational gradients is rare. To test whether competition limits ele...
Article
Interspecific aggregations of prey may provide benefits by mitigating predation risk, but they can also create costs if they increase competition for resources or are more easily detectable by predators. Variation in predation risk and resource availability may influence the occurrence and fitness effects of aggregating in nature. Yet tests of such...
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Should they stay or should they leave? The age at which young transition between life stages, such as living in a nest versus leaving it, differs among species and the reasons why are unclear. We show that offspring of songbird species that leave the nest at a younger age have less developed wings that cause poorer flight performance and greater mo...
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Molecular studies have revealed that social groups composed mainly of nonrelatives may be widespread in group-living vertebrates, but the benefits favoring such sociality are not well understood. In the Old World, birds often form conspecific foraging groups that are maintained year-round and offspring usually disperse to other social groups. We te...
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Understanding intrinsic (physiological) and extrinsic (e.g., temperature) causes of variation in embryonic development time (incubation period) is important because they can have different impacts on individual quality. Robert Ricklefs and colleagues have argued that longer incubation periods result primarily from intrinsic physiological programs t...
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Aim Adult survival is central to theories explaining latitudinal gradients in life history strategies. Life history theory predicts higher adult survival in tropical than north temperate regions given lower fecundity and parental effort. Early studies were consistent with this prediction, but standard‐effort netting studies in recent decades sugges...
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The relative importance of intrinsic constraints imposed by evolved physiological trade-offs versus the proximate effects of temperature for interspecific variation in embryonic development time remains unclear. Understanding this distinction is important because slow development due to evolved trade-offs can yield phenotypic benefits, whereas slow...
Article
Increased perceived predation risk can cause behavioral and physiological responses to reduce direct predation mortality, but these responses can also cause demographic costs through reduced reproductive output. Such indirect costs of predation risk have received increased attention in recent years, but the relative importance of direct versus indi...
Article
We present the first description of the breeding biology for the Fruithunter (Chlamydochaera jefferyi), a member of the cosmopolitan family Turdidae, and a montane endemic to the tropical Asian island of Borneo. We also compile breeding biology traits from the literature to make comparisons between the Fruithunter and the thrush genus Turdus. Our c...
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Poor developmental conditions can have long-lasting negative effects on offspring phenotypes, but impacts often differ among species. Contrasting responses may reflect disparities in experimental protocols among single-species studies or inherent differences among species in their sensitivity to early conditions and/or ability to mitigate negative...
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We studied the breeding biology of the south temperate Cape Penduline Tit (Anthoscopus minutus) in order to compare its life history traits with those of related north temperate members of the family Remizidae, namely the Eurasian Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus) and the Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps). We used this comparison to test key predictions...
Article
Understanding the causes underlying changes in species diversity is a fundamental pursuit of ecology. Animal species richness and composition often change with decreased forest structural complexity associated with logging. Yet differences in latitude and forest type may strongly influence how species diversity responds to logging. We performed a m...
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Several long-standing hypotheses have been proposed to explain latitudinal patterns of life-history strategies. Here, we test predictions of four such hypotheses (seasonality, food limitation, nest predation and adult survival probability) by examining life-history traits and age-specific mortality rates of several species of thrushes (Turdinae) ba...
Article
Behavioural responses to reduce predation risk might cause demographic ‘costs of fear’. Costs differ among species, but a conceptual framework to understand this variation is lacking. We use a life-history framework to tie together diverse traits and life stages to better understand interspecific variation in responses and costs. We used natural an...
Article
Among cooperatively breeding species, helpers are hypothesised to increase the survival of breeders by reducing breeder workload in offspring care and increased group vigilance against predators. Furthermore, parental nepotism or other benefits of group living may provide a survival benefit to young that delay dispersal to help. We tested these hyp...
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Slow life histories are characterized by high adult survival and few offspring that are thought to allow increased investment per offspring to increase juvenile survival. Consistent with this pattern, south temperate zone birds are commonly longer-lived and have fewer young than north temperate zone species. However, comparative analyses of juvenil...
Article
1.Variation in post-natal growth rates is substantial among organisms and especially strong among latitudes because tropical and south temperate species typically have slower growth than north-temperate relatives. Metabolic rate is thought to be a critical mechanism underlying growth rates after accounting for allometric effects of body mass. Howev...
Article
Life history theory attempts to explain why species differ in offspring number and quality, growth rate, and parental effort. I show that unappreciated interactions of these traits in response to age-related mortality risk challenge traditional perspectives and explain life history evolution in songbirds. Counter to a long-standing paradigm, tropic...
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Parental behavior and effort vary extensively among species. Life-history theory suggests that age-specific mortality could cause this interspecific variation, but past tests have focused on fecundity as the measure of parental effort. Fecundity can cause costs of reproduction that confuse whether mortality is the cause or the consequence of parent...
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Clutch size commonly decreases with increasing elevation among temperate-zone and subtropical songbird species. Tropical songbirds typically lay small clutches, thus the ability to evolve even smaller clutch sizes at higher elevations is unclear and untested. We conducted a comparative phylogenetic analysis using data gathered from the literature t...
Article
Turnover in animal species along vegetation gradients is often assumed to reflect adaptive habitat preferences that are narrower than the full gradient. Specifically, animals may decline in abundance where their reproductive success is low, and these poor-quality locations differ among species. Yet habitat use does not always appear adaptive. The c...
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Abstract Growth and development rates may result from genetic programming of intrinsic processes that yield correlated rates between life stages. These intrinsic rates are thought to affect adult mortality probability and longevity. However, if proximate extrinsic factors (e.g., temperature, food) influence development rates differently between sta...
Article
The Spotted Barbtail (Furnariidae) is poorly studied but shows some extreme traits for a tropical passerine. We located and monitored 155 nests to study this species for 7 years in an Andean cloud forest in Venezuela. Spotted Barbtails have an unusually long incubation period of 27.2 ± 0.16 days, as a result of very long (3–6 hr) off-bouts even tho...
Article
Resource selection specialization may increase vulnerability of populations to environmental change. One environmental change that may negatively impact some populations is the broad decline of quaking aspen Populus tremuloides, a preferred nest tree of cavity-nesting organisms who are commonly limited by nest-site availability. However, the long-t...
Article
Life history theory predicts an inverse relationship between annual adult survival and fecundity. Globally, clutch size shows a latitudinal gradient among birds, with south temperate species laying smaller clutches than north temperate species, but larger clutches than tropical species. Tropical birds often have higher adult survival than north tem...
Article
Abstract Causes of evolved differences in clutch size among songbird species remain debated. I propose a new conceptual framework that integrates aspects of traditional life-history theory while including novel elements to explain evolution of clutch size among songbirds. I review evidence that selection by nest predation on length of time that off...
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Next week, conservation scientists will gather at the International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) in Baltimore, Maryland, to grapple with the challenges of preserving our natural world in the face of a growing and increasingly consumptive human population. The natural world provides countless services, such as clean water, protection fro...
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Predation can be an important agent of natural selection shaping parental care behaviours, and can also favour behavioural plasticity. Parent birds often decrease the rate that they visit the nest to provision offspring when perceived risk is high. Yet, the plasticity of such responses may differ among species as a function of either their relative...
Article
1. Variation in ontogeny and strength of immune defence mechanisms can be integrally related to variation in life-history strategies and determined by trade-offs during development. However, little is known about the ontogeny of immune function in wild birds, especially in altricial birds and in a comparative context across altricial species with d...
Article
Intrinsic processes are assumed to underlie life history expression and trade-offs, but extrinsic inputs are theorised to shift trait expression and mask trade-offs within species. Here, we explore application of this theory across species. We do this based on parentally induced embryo temperature as an extrinsic input, and mass-specific embryo met...
Article
Climate change can modify ecological interactions, but whether it can have cascading effects throughout ecological networks of multiple interacting species remains poorly studied. Climate-driven alterations in the intensity of plant-herbivore interactions may have particularly profound effects on the larger community because plants provide habitat...
Article
Heavy herbivory by ungulates can substantially alter habitat, but the indirect consequences of habitat modification for animal assemblages that rely on that habitat are not well studied. This is a particularly important topic given that climate change can alter plant-herbivore interactions. We explored short-term responses of small mammal communiti...
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Different body components are thought to trade off in their growth and development rates, but the causes for relative prioritization of any trait remains a critical question. Offspring of species at higher risk of predation might prioritize development of locomotor traits that facilitate escaping risky environments over growth of mass. We tested th...
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Few empirical studies have measured the effects of climate change on tropical biodiversity, and this paucity has contributed to uncertainty in predicting the severity of climate change on tropical organisms. With regards to elevational changes, most studies have either re-sampled historical systematic survey sites or analyzed time series of occurre...
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The contribution of climate change to declining populations of organisms remains a question of outstanding concern1, 2, 3. Much attention to declining populations has focused on how changing climate drives phenological mismatches between animals and their food4, 5, 6. Effects of climate on plant communities may provide an alternative, but particula...
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Song sparrows produce fewer offspring when they perceive a higher predation risk, even in the absence of actual predation.
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Variation in the risk of predation to offspring can influence the expression of reproductive strategies both within and among species. Appropriate expression of reproductive strategies in environments that differ in predation risk can have clear advantages for fitness. Although adult-predation risk appears to influence glucocorticosteroid levels, l...
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Causes of interspecific variation in growth rates within and among geographic regions remain poorly understood. Passerine birds represent an intriguing case because differing theories yield the possibility of an antagonistic interaction between nest predation risk and food delivery rates on evolution of growth rates. We test this possibility among...
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Long embryonic periods are assumed to reflect slower intrinsic development that are thought to trade off to allow enhanced physiological systems, such as immune function. Yet, the relatively rare studies of this trade-off in avian offspring have not found the expected trade-off. Theory and tests have not taken into account the strong extrinsic effe...
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We studied the consequences of nest-site choice on nesting success under differing disturbance levels for the Rufous-bellied Thrush (Turdus rufiventris). We compared nest-site choice and nest success between a disturbed site and an undisturbed site in a montane subtropical forest in northwestern Argentina. We found no overall difference in daily pr...