Temperature but not rainfall influences timing of breeding in a desert bird, the trumpeter finch ( Bucanetes githagineus )

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2007
Authors:Barrientos, R, Barbosa, A, Valera, F, Moreno, E
Journal:Journal of Ornithology
Date Published:2007
ISBN Number:2193-7192
Keywords:Bucanetes, Bucanetes githagineus, Fringillidae, Rhodopechys githaginea, Rhodopechys githagineus, Spain
Abstract:Reproductive performance in birds depends on several factors, one of the most important being the time of breeding. Birds try to fit offspring birth and growth to peak vegetative production in order to assure fledgling survival. In arid environments, where weather conditions are often extreme, birds must face unpredictable abiotic conditions. This study uses a border population of the trumpeter finch ( Bucanetes githagineus ) as a model to test whether climate variables (rainfall and temperature) influence breeding parameters by comparing 2 years with very different weather. The study was carried out in the Tabernas desert (southeastern Spain) in 2004 and 2005. A comparison of laying dates in the 2 years shows a 40-day delay in the date of the first clutch in the coldest year (mean minimum temperature 3°C lower in 2005 than in 2004). However, once the breeding season started, the number of clutches, clutch size, duration of the incubation period, nestling phase, fledgling rates and productivity were similar. One likely explanation for this delay is that low temperatures did not allow the germination of Diplotaxis sp., a plant forming the bulk of the trumpeter finch diet during spring. Its absence could prevent onset of breeding, although other temperature-related factors could also be involved. Although rainfall has frequently been reported as a limiting factor for arid bird species, our 2-year study shows that temperature can also influence the breeding biology of arid bird species, by affecting its timing.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith