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Survival and local recruitment are driven by environmental carry-over effects from the wintering area in a migratory seabird

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Abstract

We estimated annual apparent survival rates, as well as local recruitment rates in different age groups and for different breeding status in the common tern Sterna hirundo using mark–recapture analysis on a long-term individual-based dataset from a breeding colony in Germany. Strong inter-annual variability in survival rates became apparent, especially in prospectors. Local recruitment also varied strongly between years and age groups. To explain these fluctuations, we linked survival and recruitment estimates to several environmental covariates expected to be limiting during the wintering period and migration, including the global climate indices of North Atlantic Oscillation and Southern Oscillation, fish abundance indices, and marine primary productivity in the West African wintering area. Contrary to expectations, global indices did not seem to be linked strongly to vital rates. Results showed that primary productivity had the strongest effect on annual survival, especially in young and inexperienced individuals. Primary productivity in the wintering area was also strongly associated with the probability of recruitment in the following breeding season, indicating that conditions during winter can have carry-over effects on the life cycle of individuals.

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Acknowledgments

We thank first and foremost the many field-assistants, technicians, students and volunteers that have helped compile the very large dataset at Banter See colony over so many years. Ad Corten and Andreas Dänhardt helped us obtain and interpret the relevant fishery data and Olaf Geiter compiled ring-recovery data. David Gremillét, Lise M. Aubry and an anonymous reviewer provided very helpful comments on the manuscript. The project was funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG; BE 916/9). Permissions were granted by the regional authorities “Bezirksregierung Weser-Ems, Stadt Wilhelmshaven” and “Nds. Landesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit Oldenburg”.

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Correspondence to K. Lesley Szostek.

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Communicated by Scott McWilliams.

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Szostek, K.L., Becker, P.H. Survival and local recruitment are driven by environmental carry-over effects from the wintering area in a migratory seabird. Oecologia 178, 643–657 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-015-3298-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-015-3298-2

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