Zbinden, N., F. Korner‐Nievergelt, F. Tettamanti & V. Keller (2022)

    Long‐term trends of reproductive success of black grouse Lyrurus tetrix in the southern Swiss Alps in relation to changes in climate and habitat.



    Breeding success of an Alpine black grouse Lyrurus tetrix population in southern Switzerland was monitored from 1981 to 2020. This long-term dataset allows exploring relationships of reproductive rates with climate and habitat, which have shown marked changes during this period. Over the 40 years, the average elevation of black grouse breeding sites increased by around 100 m in central/southern Ticino but showed only a slight increase in northern Ticino, where black grouse occur at higher elevations. Average reproductive rates in northern Ticino remained constant throughout the study period but declined in central/southern Ticino. Relationships between reproductive success and weather as well as habitat variables were analysed with a multiple regression model. Temperature during the early chick-rearing phase and the time of egg-laying was positively correlated with reproductive rate. Correlations between reproductive rates and precipitation were less clear, and only small proportions of the variance in reproductive rates could be explained by precipitation. Brush forest explained the greatest amount of variation in reproductive rate (6.2%). Forest, alpine agricultural areas and unproductive vegetation all showed a positive relationship with reproductive rate, but the proportion of the variance explained was small. Year (5.1%) and its interaction with region (2.3%) explained considerable amounts of the variance. While in northern Ticino reproductive success did not show a negative trend when correcting for weather and habitat changes, there remained a negative trend over the years in central/southern Ticino. Despite the positive correlations of reproductive rate with temperature, increasing temperatures do not appear to have improved reproductive success, likely as a result of habitat changes that forced black grouse towards higher elevations. Changes in reproductive success were limited to the southern region, indicating deteriorating conditions at the edge of the distribution range.
    Keywords: climate change, habitat change, reproductive success