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Schaub, M., W. Kania & U. Köppen (2005)

Variation of primary production during winter induces synchrony in survival rates in migratory white storks Ciconia ciconia.

Further information

J. Anim. Ecol. 74: 656–666

Contact

michael.schaub@vogelwarte.ch

Abstract

1. The environmental conditions that migratory birds experience during their stay at different locations throughout the year can have significant impact on the variation of annual survival rates. Because migrants often crowd during non-breeding, environmental conditions can affect survival rates of individuals originating from different breeding populations, thus also provoking spatial synchronisation of annual survival rates. The identification of critical environmental factors affecting survival is therefore crucial for understanding large-scale population dynamics of migrants.
2. We studied temporal and spatial variation of survival rates of migratory white stork Ciconia ciconia from eastern Germany and Poland and examine factors associated with this variation. We used resighting and dead-recovery data from more than 30´000 individuals sampled over 19 years to estimate survival.
3. Survival rates of juvenile and adult white storks originating from the two countries varied in parallel over time. Thus, variation in survival was caused by environmental variation to which individuals of both age classes from both countries were similarly sensitive. Variation in the primary production (as reflected by the normalized difference vegetation index) at one staging area in the eastern Sahel that is visited from October to November contributed up to 88 % to the temporal variation in survival. Annual survival was reduced when primary production in the Sahel was low.
4. As the population growth rate of white storks is very sensitive to changes in survival, variation in primary production in the Sahelian staging area contributed significantly to population changes and is likely to be an important reason for population synchrony.
5. This study demonstrates that dynamics of migratory bird populations inhabiting large breeding areas can result from environmental variation encountered at a staging area that is visited for only a short period of time.
Key-words: Africa, migration, NDVI, stopover, variance decomposition.