Reproduction in an endemic bird of a semiarid island: a food-mediated process

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2006
Authors:Illera, JC, Díaz, M
Journal:Journal of Avian Biology
Date Published:2006
ISBN Number:1600-048X
Keywords:Fringillidae, Muscicapidae, Saxicola, Saxicola dacotiae, Saxicola torquatus, Serinus, Serinus canaria, Spain
Abstract:We analyse the effects of rainfall, temperature, food availability and nest predation on the between-year variation in reproduction of the Canary Islands stonechat Saxicola dacotiae, a bird species endemic of the semiarid island of Fuerteventura (Canary Islands, Spain). We monitored the reproductive performance and output of the species across its whole distribution area during three consecutive breeding periods, also measuring rainfall, temperature and food (arthropod) availability on the ground monthly. Rainfall varied from 27.3 mm in 2000–2001 (dry year) to 124.5 mm and 125.1 mm (average years), respectively, in the 2001–2002 and 2002–2003 breeding seasons. The onset of breeding closely matched variation in the onset of the autumn-winter rains among years. Arthropod availability was strongly and positively related to rainfall one month before. Reproductive investment (number of clutches and clutch size) was correlated to arthropod availability both among years and among sites within years. Stonechat pairs bred once or did not breed at all in the dry year whereas they bred twice in the other two years. Clutch size was smaller in the dry year and larger in the second as compared with the first in the other two years. Reproductive investment largely determined reproductive output (number of fledglings) as there were no significant spatial or temporal variation in hatching success (90% on average) or nest predation (29% on average, mostly due to feral cats Felis catus). Within- and among years variability in temperature or predation did not match variability in the onset, length or reproductive investment and output recorded throughout the study years. These results suggest that variability in annual fecundity in the Canary Islands Stonechat was mainly driven by rainfall through a food-mediated process.
Short Title:Journal of Avian Biology
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith