Teleconnections and local weather orchestrate the reproduction of tit species in the Carpathian Basin

Laczi, Miklós; Garamszegi, Lazlo; Hegyi, Gergely; Herényi, Márton; Ilyés, Gábor; Könczey, Réka; Nagy, Gergely; Pongrácz, Rita; Rosivall, Balázs; Szöllősi, Eszter; Tóth, László; Török, János

20 October 2019

Variation in climatic conditions is an important driving force of ecological processes. Populations are under selection to respond to climatic changes with respect to phenology of the annual cycle (e.g. breeding, migration) and life-history. As teleconnections can reflect climate on a global scale, the responses of terrestrial animals are often investigated in relation to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation. However, investigation of other teleconnections and local climate is often neglected. In this study, we examined over a 33-year period the relationships between four teleconnections (El Niño-Southern Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, Arctic Oscillation, East Atlantic Pattern), local weather parameters (temperature and precipitation) and reproduction in great tits Parus major and blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus in the Carpathian Basin, Hungary. Furthermore, we explored how annual variations in the timing of food availability were correlated with breeding performance. In both species, annual laying date was negatively associated with the Arctic Oscillation. The date of peak abundance of caterpillars was negatively associated with local temperatures in December-January, while laying date was negatively related to January-March temperature. We found that date of peak abundance of caterpillars and laying date of great tits advanced, while in blue tits clutch size decreased over the decades but laying date did not advance. The results suggest that weather conditions during the months that preceded the breeding season, as well as temporally more distant winter conditions, were connected to breeding date. Our results highlight that phenological synchronization to food availability was different between the two tit species, namely it was disrupted in blue tits only. Additionally, the results suggest that in order to find the climatic drivers of the phenological changes of organisms, we should analyze a broader range of global meteorological parameters.

Doi
10.1111/jav.02179