, Volume 155, Issue 4, pp 845-857
Date: 26 Jan 2008

Climate change and micro-geographic variation in laying date

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Abstract

Climate change has been shown to affect the timing of reproduction, with earlier reproduction being associated with an increase in temperature. Changes in the timing of reproduction arise from changes in food availability as well as other factors, and differences in the timing of reproduction among sites may cause sites with early reproduction to contribute disproportionately to local recruitment. In this study, spatial variation in the laying date of barn swallows Hirundo rustica at 39 sites in a 45-km2study area during the period 1971–2004 was used to investigate micro-geographic patterns in the timing of breeding. I found that individuals breeding at sites with early reproduction had a disproportionately large reproductive success. Early sites were characterized by early plant phenology, as determined by the date of leafing of the broad-leaved elm Ulmus glabra and date of flowering of the snowdrop Galanthus nivalis during a single year. Such early sites showed greater advancement in laying date between 1971 and 2004 than the average site. Early sites were also generally occupied during more years by a larger number of breeders than were late sites. Breeders at early sites produced more fledglings, and breeders at such sites were characterized by a smaller adult body size and larger secondary sexual characters than individuals at the average site. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that temporal changes in the timing of reproduction occur as a consequence of differential recruitment at phenologically early sites that produce disproportionately large numbers of offspring.