Population Ecology

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 499–507 | Cite as

Spatially correlated environmental factors drive synchronisation in populations of the Dalmatian Pelican

  • Aggeliki Doxa
  • Konstantinos Theodorou
  • Alain J. Crivelli
  • Dionyssia Hatzilacou
  • Giorgos Catsadorakis
  • Myrcini Malakou
  • Theodoros Nazirides
  • Alexandre Robert
Original article


Spatial synchrony in population dynamics has been documented recently across a range of taxa, and a number of hypotheses about the mechanisms driving spatial synchrony and the consequences of this phenomenon for the persistence of populations have emerged. Spatial environmental covariance is one of the principal factors influencing this synchrony on a large scale. However, most studies focus on population abundances, and little evidence exists on the spatial synchrony of demographic parameters. We used a 15-year dataset from two populations of a vulnerable bird species, the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), to identify local and global environmental factors that cause population synchrony. We show that survival rates were temporally synchronised between the studied populations and that a large part (>50 % for both populations) of this covariation was driven by local environmental conditions. Several components of the North Atlantic Oscillation index were correlated with local climatic conditions, but not all of these components can be used as informative proxies for future variation in survival. We also present evidence that an individual’s future survival can be strongly influenced by the conditions occurring during the early period of its life. Environmental factors such as water level and food availability had similar influences on breeding success and juvenile survival. Juvenile survival was lower during dry years and years of low food availability. This finding indicated that intra-specific competition may act as a limiting factor for species demography, especially in large populations. Estimating the strength of synchrony is important and should be considered in population and metapopulation analyses and in relationship to conservation measures.


Demographic parameters Drought Food availability Mediterranean climate Population synchrony 



We would like to warmly thank all the people who helped in the field and the Society for Protection of Prespa for all the data provided. We also thank Morten Frederiksen, two anonymous reviewers and the handling editor of the journal for comments on a previous version of this work. This study is part of the International Pelican research and management program of the southeastern Europe (Dr A.J. Crivelli, program leader) and funded by the Foundation Sansouire (France).


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aggeliki Doxa
    • 1
    • 2
    • 8
  • Konstantinos Theodorou
    • 2
  • Alain J. Crivelli
    • 3
  • Dionyssia Hatzilacou
    • 4
  • Giorgos Catsadorakis
    • 5
  • Myrcini Malakou
    • 6
  • Theodoros Nazirides
    • 7
  • Alexandre Robert
    • 1
  1. 1.Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations, UMR 7204 MNHN-CNRS-UPMC, Muséum National d’Histoire NaturelleParisFrance
  2. 2.Biodiversity Conservation Laboratory, Department of EnvironmentUniversity of the Aegean, University HillMytileneGreece
  3. 3.Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, Le SambucArlesFrance
  4. 4.National Center for the Environment and Sustainable DevelopmentAthensGreece
  5. 5.SoufliGreece
  6. 6.Society for the Protection of Prespa, PrespaAgios GermanosGreece
  7. 7.VironiaN. PetritsiGreece
  8. 8.Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité & d’Écologie marine et continentale, Europôle Méditerranéen de l’ArboisAix-en-Provence Cedex 4France

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