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Barn Owl (Tyto alba) breeding biology in relation to breeding season climate

Abstract

Winter weather has a strong influence on Barn Owl (Tyto alba) breeding biology. Here, we analyzed the impacts of weather conditions on reproductive performance during the breeding season using data collected over 22 years in a Swiss Barn Owl population. Variations in rain and temperature during the breeding season played an important role in within-year variation in Barn Owl reproduction. An increase in rainfall during the period from 4 to 2 weeks preceding egg laying had a positive effect on clutch size. In contrast, fledgling body mass was negatively influenced by rainfall during the 24 h preceding the measurements. Finally, ambient temperature during the rearing period was positively associated with brood size at fledging. In conclusion, weather conditions during the breeding season place constraints on Barn Owl reproduction.

Zusammenfassung

Der Einfluss der Witterung während der Brutzeit auf die Brutbiologie der Schleiereule ( Tyto alba )

Jährliche Unterschiede im Wetter im Winter und Unterschiede in den Nahrungsbedingungen kurz vor der Brutperiode haben einen großen Einfluss auf die Brutbiologie der Schleiereule. Anhand eines Langzeitdatensatzes von 22 Jahren untersuchten wir verschiedene Wettereinflüsse auf die Fortpflanzungsleistung einer schweizerischen Schleiereulenpopulation. Regenmenge und Temperatur während der Brutsaison spielten eine wichtige Rolle, um den individuellen Unterschied in der Fortpflanzung der Schleiereulenpaare zu erklären. Je mehr es während vier bis zwei Wochen vor Legebeginn regnete, desto grösser war das Gelege. Die Körpermasse der Nestlinge kurz vor dem Ausfliegen war dagegen durch Regen während 24 Stunden vor der Messung beeinträchtigt. Auch hatte die Umgebungstemperatur während der Aufzuchtzeit einen positiven Effekt auf die Anzahl Nestlinge, die bis zum Ausfliegen überlebten. Zusammenfassend kann gesagt werden, dass sich die Wetterbedingungen während der Brutsaison limitierend auf die Fortpflanzung der Schleiereulen auswirken.

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Acknowledgments

We are greatly indebted to Henri Etter and the late Martin Epars who helped collect the field data. We thank Dr. Martin Spiess and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on a previous draft, and Amélie Dreiss for statistical advice. The study was financed by grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant nos. PPOA-102913 and 31003A_120517 to AR) and the Foundation De Giacomi.

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Correspondence to Alexandre Roulin.

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Communicated by F. Bairlein.

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Chausson, A., Henry, I., Almasi, B. et al. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) breeding biology in relation to breeding season climate. J Ornithol 155, 273–281 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-013-1012-x

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Keywords

  • Climate
  • Reproduction
  • Tyto alba
  • Weather