Conditions at autumn stopover sites affect survival of a migratory passerine

Lucyna Halupka*, Kaja Wierucka, Hanna Sztwiertnia, Ewelina Klimczuk

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Citations (Scopus)
    44 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)979-988
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Ornithology
    Volume158
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

    Keywords

    • annual survival
    • climate change
    • eurasian reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
    • meteorological conditions
    • migration
    • Weather

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