Effects of pair migratory behavior on breeding phenology and success in a partially migratory shorebird population

Verónica Méndez, Jose A. Alves, Jennifer A. Gill, Böðvar Þórisson, Camilo Carneiro, Aldís Pálsdottír, Sölvi Vignisson, Tomas G. Gunnarsson

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In migratory systems, variation in individual phenology can arise through differences in individual migratory behaviors, and this may be particularly apparent in partial migrant systems, where migrant and resident individuals are present within the same population. Links between breeding phenology and migratory behavior or success are generally investigated at the individual level. However, for breeding phenology in particular, the migratory behaviors of each member of the pair may need to be considered simultaneously, as breeding phenology will likely be constrained by timing of the pair member that arrives last, and carryover effects on breeding success may vary depending on whether pair members share the same migratory behavior or not. We used tracking of marked individuals and monitoring of breeding success from a partially migrant population of Eurasian oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) breeding in Iceland to test whether (a) breeding phenology varied with pair migratory behavior; (b) within-pair consistency in timing of laying differed among pair migratory behaviors; and (c) reproductive performance varied with pair migratory behavior, timing of laying, and year. We found that annual variation in timing of laying differed among pair migratory behaviors, with resident pairs being more consistent than migrant and mixed pairs, and migrant/mixed pairs breeding earlier than residents in most years but later in one (unusually cold) year. Pairs that laid early were more likely to replace their clutch after nest loss, had higher productivity and higher fledging success, independent of pair migratory behavior. Our study suggests that the links between individual migratory behavior and reproductive success can vary over time and, to a much lesser extent, with mate migratory behavior and can be mediated by differences in laying dates. Understanding these cascading effects of pair phenology on breeding success is likely to be key to predicting the impact of changing environmental conditions on migratory species.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9184
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number8
Early online date4 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

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