Influences of food availability and predation on survival of kittiwakes

Oro, D. and Furness, R.W. (2002) Influences of food availability and predation on survival of kittiwakes. Ecology, 83(9), pp. 2516-2528. (doi: 10.2307/3071811)

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Life history theory predicts a trade-off between current reproduction and survival to maximize fitness. In long-lived seabirds. one might expect adults not to jeopardize survival by excessive reproductive investment when environmental conditions for breeding are adverse. Some environmental factors have reduced the fecundity of Black-legged Kittiwakes (<i>Rissa tridactyla</i>) breeding in Shetland, UK, a metapopulation that has declined substantially during the last two decades. Two hypotheses are proposed to explain this decrease: (1) reduced availability of sandeels (the main prey for kittiwakes), which has occurred since the late 1980s; and (2) increased predation by Great Skuas (<i>Catharacta skua</i>), the main predator of kittiwakes. Detailed data on food supply (sandeel stock size, by age groups), kittiwake body condition and breeding success, and diet and productivity of Great Skuas allowed us to assess the influence of each of these factors on adult kittiwake survival from 1986 through 1997. Capture-recapture models were constructed to examine correlations between local adult survival rate and environmental parameters. Body condition at the end of the breeding season and availability of 0-group (juveniles less than or equal to I yr old) sandeels positively influenced adult survival, whereas survival was lower when Great Skua productivity was high. Adult survival varied greatly during the study, from 0.53 +/- 0.04 to 0.98 +/- 0.01 (mean +/- I SD), and was independent of sex. Both hypotheses were supported. Contrary to predictions of life history theory, kittiwakes did not refrain from breeding in years of poor food supply or high predator activity to buffer their survival at the cost of not rearing chicks. Although 0-group sandeel availability affected breeding success of kittiwakes, its influence on adult survival was also significant. The discovery that food supply affects adult survival rate has important implications for fisheries management to minimize impacts on seabirds.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Furness, Professor Robert
Authors: Oro, D., and Furness, R.W.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Ecology

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