Publication details.


Author(s):F. Ramírez, I. Afán, G. Tavecchia, I.A. Catalán, D. Oro, A. Sanz-Aguilar
Title:Oceanographic drivers and mistiming processes shape breeding success in a seabird
JCR Impact Factor:4.94
Abstract:Understanding the processes driving seabirds’ reproductive performance
through trophic interactions requires the identification of seasonal pulses in
marine productivity.We investigated the sequence of environmental and biological
processes driving the reproductive phenology and performance of the storm
petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) in the Western Mediterranean. The enhanced light
and nutrient availability at the onset of water stratification (late winter/early
spring) resulted in annual consecutive peaks in relative abundance of phytoplankton,
zooplankton and ichthyoplankton. The high energy-demanding
period of egg production and chick rearing coincided with these successive
pulses in food availability, pointing to a phenological adjustment to such
seasonal patterns with important fitness consequences. Indeed, delayed
reproduction with respect to the onset of water stratification resulted in both
hatching and breeding failure. This pattern was observed at the population
level, but also when confounding factors such as individuals’ age or experience
were also accounted for.We provide the first evidence of oceanographic drivers
leading to the optimal time-window for reproduction in an inshore seabird at
southern European latitudes, along with a suitable framework for assessing
the impact of environmentally driven changes in marine productivity patterns
in seabird performance.
1. Introduction
The breeding phenology of many species has been shaped by individual optimal
decisions in response to predictable patterns of food availability in space and
time. This is particularly true for those species inhabiting temperate areas,
where breeding success depends on the ability to adjust reproductive timing to
seasonal patterns in food availability [1,2]. As long as seasonal productivity patterns
vary between years, the optimal timing of reproduction will also vary [3],
with individuals breeding more successfully when energetic demands overlap
extensively with peaks in food availability [4]. Our ability to identify those
environmental features leading to seasonal patterns of food availability is essential
for understanding environmental processes driving reproductive performance
through trophic interactions.
Vertebrates with a long gestation or incubation period are expected to time
their reproduction so that the short seasonal pulses in food availability coincide
with the maximum food requirements for offspring [5]. As reproduction initiates
much earlier than the brooding phase, suitable reproductive timing as an adaptation
to climatic seasonality should result from the use of cues that are available
when the decision is taken to initiate breeding, and informing on future nutritional
conditions [6,7]. The onset of reproduction may be influenced by a
species-specific combination of fixed (e.g. photoperiod) and/or variable (e.g.
& 2016 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
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Related staff

  • Ignacio A. Catalán Alemany
  • Giacomo Tavecchia
  • Ana Sanz Aguilar
  • Related research groups

  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Marine Ecosystems Dynamics