Spring phenology and timing of breeding in short-distance migrant birds

Submitted by avianbiology on 18 September 2014.

In this impressive long-term study the authors explore if common goldeneyes can track environmental cues and adjust their breeding in response to a changing climate. At their study site in Finland the ice-out date has advanced with 2 weeks during their 24 yr study period and here the authors show that many of the female goldeneyes do respond to the earlier springs, but that some females are able to respond better than other. They show that older, early-nesting females with good body condition and larger broods recruited the most female offspring.

Below you can read the Author´s own story about their study:

With so much interest in how spring phenology affects reproductive performance in birds, including duck species with varying flexibility in nesting date (e.g., see Drever, Clark, et al. 2012. Global Change Biology 18: 480-492), I was eager to examine how individuals of different duck species might respond to variation in spring phenology and also determine how female flexibility might affect reproductive performance.   There are only a few study populations in the world that offer this potential, and I was excited when Hannu Pöysä, Pentti Runko and Antti Paasivaara agreed to collaborate and use their long-term data for individually-marked female goldeneyes (and their offspring) to look at phenology-related questions Many female goldeneyes seem to be able to track spring conditions closely - possibly because they are short-distance migrants - and also benefit from early breeding.  Studies of how individual flexibility in breeding date varies among duck or other species with contrasting life-histories would be very informative.

You can access the paper on the links below: