, Volume 168, Issue 1, pp 97-108
Date: 23 Jul 2011

The demographic drivers of local population dynamics in two rare migratory birds

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Abstract

The exchange of individuals among populations can have strong effects on the dynamics and persistence of a given population. Yet, estimation of immigration rates remains one of the greatest challenges for animal demographers. Little empirical knowledge exists about the effects of immigration on population dynamics. New integrated population models fitted using Bayesian methods enable simultaneous estimation of fecundity, survival and immigration, as well as the growth rate of a population of interest. We applied this novel analytical framework to the demography of two populations of long-distance migratory birds, hoopoe Upupa epops and wryneck Jynx torquilla, in a study area in south-western Switzerland. During 2002–2010, the hoopoe population increased annually by 11%, while the wryneck population remained fairly stable. Apparent juvenile and adult survival probability was nearly identical in both species, but fecundity and immigration were slightly higher in the hoopoe. Hoopoe population growth rate was strongly correlated with juvenile survival, fecundity and immigration, while that of wrynecks strongly correlated only with immigration. This indicates that demographic components impacting the arrival of new individuals into the populations were more important for their dynamics than demographic components affecting the loss of individuals. The finding that immigration plays a crucial role in the population growth rates of these two rare species emphasizes the need for a broad rather than local perspective for population studies, and the development of wide-scale conservation actions.

Communicated by Ola Olsson.