Environmental conditions during breeding modify the strength of mass-dependent carry-over effects in a migratory bird
Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2013 Harrison et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
In many animals, processes occurring in one season carry over to influence reproductive success and survival in future seasons. The strength of such carry-over effects is unlikely to be uniform across years, yet our understanding of the processes that are capable of modifying their strength remains limited. Here we show that female light-bellied Brent geese with higher body mass prior to spring migration successfully reared more offspring during breeding, but only in years where environmental conditions during breeding were favourable. In years of bad weather during breeding, all birds suffered reduced reproductive output irrespective of pre-migration mass. Our results suggest that the magnitude of reproductive benefits gained by maximising body stores to fuel breeding fluctuates markedly among years in concert with conditions during the breeding season, as does the degree to which carry-over effects are capable of driving variance in reproductive success among individuals. Therefore while carry-over effects have considerable power to drive fitness asymmetries among individuals, our ability to interpret these effects in terms of their implications for population dynamics is dependent on knowledge of fitness determinants occurring in subsequent seasons.
XAH was funded by NERC grant (NE⁄F008058⁄1) with a Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust CASE partnership and RI by NERC grant (NE⁄F021690⁄1), both awarded to SB. SB is funded by an ERC Consolidator's Grant: STATEMIG 310820. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
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Vol. 8, e77783
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