, Volume 141, Issue 1, pp 158-163
Date: 05 Aug 2004

Does climate at different scales influence the phenology and phenotype of the River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis?

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Abstract

Weather and climatic conditions may impact on the phenology and morphology of birds, and thereby affect their survival rate and population dynamics. We examined the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), precipitation in the Sahel zone, temperatures in the wintering grounds, on the migration route, and in the breeding area in relation to arrival dates and six morphological measures (wing, tarsus, bill, and tail lengths, body mass, body condition) in a Slovak population of the River Warbler Locustella fluviatilis. Arrival dates did not change significantly over the study period, but were significantly positively correlated with NAO, although not with temperatures in wintering areas, migration route or breeding area, nor with Sahel precipitation. Four of the six morphological traits changed during the study period and part of the change in condition index can be attributed to climatic variables. We suggest changes in birds’ phenotype vary with food availability, which fluctuate according to climate events.