Weather is an important factor affecting many aspects of avian ecology, yet its importance for survival during various periods of the avian annual cycle has received relatively little attention and remains poorly understood. We have investigated the effect of weather conditions at the breeding and wintering grounds and during migration on the survival probability of Eurasian Reed Warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus, a long-distance Palaearctic-African migrant species. We found that annual survival was significantly affected by precipitation at the autumn stopover sites in Spain and Morocco, where Reed Warblers accumulate energy reserves prior to crossing the Sahara desert: low rainfall was associated with decreased survival. We suggest that arid conditions at these crucial stopover sites may cause limitations in food availability, prevent proper refueling and hence result in lower survival. Survival estimates were not related to weather conditions in Africa during the bird wintering period or the preceding wet season. Likewise, meteorological conditions at the breeding area did not influence survival. Survival estimates for males and females did not differ, although recapture probability was significantly lower for females than for males. Our results indicate that weather significantly influences Reed Warbler survival, although its effect may vary for different stages of the annual cycle. Our findings suggest that marked climatic changes occurring along migratory routes, in particular at important stopover sites, may have far-reaching consequences on bird survival and population size.
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- annual survival
- climate change
- eurasian reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
- meteorological conditions