Reduced compensatory growth capacity in mistimed broods of a migratory passerine
- 353 Downloads
Phenotypic plasticity has recently been proposed to increase population viability when rapid anthropogenic environmental changes cannot be tracked by means of evolution. This assumes that environmental changes do not constrain phenotypic plasticity itself, which has rarely been examined in natural populations. In areas of climate warming, many long-distance migratory birds breed increasingly late relative to the period of peak food supply, and the temporal mismatch may constrain plastic life-history traits such as nestling growth. We combined 23 years of food availability and breeding data with a 3-year experimental manipulation of nestling growth trajectories in a Central European population of collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) to examine the potential impact of climate-related mistimed breeding on nestling developmental plasticity. Timing of the food peak was predicted by winter climate, and the median hatching date of broods was earlier in springs with earlier food peaks. However, the adjustment of hatching date was incomplete and the population largely missed the food peak in years with very early food peaks. After imposing a temporary, experimental food shortage on nestlings, the extent of compensatory growth in body mass differed among years, and this difference was apparently related to the distance of hatching dates from the yearly food peak. Growth compensation declined with distance from the peak. These results suggest that mistimed phenology may not only create permanently adverse conditions for migratory species but it may also constrain the plastic responses of individuals to temporary disturbances. Therefore, climate change may not only favour but also restrict phenotypic plasticity.
KeywordsBody mass gain Breeding date Global warming Insect phenology Long-distance migrant
We thank M. Herényi, M. Laczi, B. Rosivall and E. Szöllősi for help with the fieldwork. Supported by Országos Tudományos Kutatási Alapprogramok (Grants K75618 to J.T. and PD72117 and K101611 to G.H.), a Bolyai fellowship to G.H., the Erdők a Közjóért Alapítvány and the Pilis Park Forestry.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Both C, Artemyev AV, Blaauw B, Cowie RJ, Dekhuijzen AJ, Eeva T, Enemar A, Gustafsson L, Ivankina EV, Järvinen A, Metcalfe NB, Nyholm NEI, Potti J, Ravussin PA, Sanz JJ, Silverin B, Slater FM, Sokolov LV, Török J, Winkel W, Wright J, Zang H, Visser ME (2004) Large-scale geographical variation confirms that climate change causes birds to lay earlier. Proc R Soc Lond B 271:1657–1662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hegyi G, Török J (2007) Developmental plasticity in a passerine bird: an experiment with collared flycatchers Ficedula albicollis. J Avian Biol 38:327–334Google Scholar
- Lepczyk CA, Karasov WH (2000) Effect of ephemeral food restrictions on growth of house sparrows. Auk 117:164–174Google Scholar
- McCarty JP (2001) Variation in growth of nestling tree swallows across multiple temporal and spatial scales. Auk 118:176–190Google Scholar
- McNeil K, Newman I, Kelly FJ (1996) Testing research hypotheses with the general linear model. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and EdwardsvilleGoogle Scholar
- Starck JM, Ricklefs RE (1998) Avian growth and development: evolution within the altricial-precocial spectrum. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Török J (1986) Food segregation in three hole-nesting bird species during the breeding season. Ardea 74:129–136Google Scholar