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Adverse foraging conditions may impact body mass and survival of a high Arctic seabird

Abstract : Tradeoffs between current reproduction and future survival are widely recognized, but may only occur when food is limited: when foraging conditions are favorable, parents may be able to reproduce without compromising their own survival. We investigated these tradeoffs in the little auk (Alle alle), a small seabird with a single-egg clutch. During 2005–2007, we examined the relationship between body mass and survival of birds breeding under contrasting foraging conditions at two Arctic colonies. We used corticosterone levels of breeding adults as a physiological indicator of the foraging conditions they encountered during each reproductive season. We found that when foraging conditions were relatively poor (as reflected in elevated levels of corticosterone), parents ended the reproductive season with low body mass and suffered increased post-breeding mortality. A positive relationship between body mass and post-breeding survival was found in one study year; light birds incurred higher survival costs than heavy birds. The results of this study suggest that reproducing under poor foraging conditions may affect the post-breeding survival of long-lived little auks. They also have important demographic implications because even a small change in adult survival may have a large effect on populations of long-lived species.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - 2:46:53 PM
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Ann M.A. Harding, Jorg Welcker, Harald Steen, Keith C. Hamer, Alexander S Kitaysky, et al.. Adverse foraging conditions may impact body mass and survival of a high Arctic seabird. Oecologia, Springer Verlag, 2011, 167, pp.49-59. ⟨10.1007/s00442-011-1971-7⟩. ⟨hal-01100472⟩



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