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Timing of breeding, peak food availability, and effects of mismatch on chick growth in birds nesting in the High Arctic

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In seasonal environments, breeding events must be synchronized with resource peaks to ensure production and growth of offspring. As changes in climate may affect trophic levels differentially, we hypothesized that a lack of synchrony between chick hatch and resource peaks could decrease growth rates in chicks of shorebirds nesting in the High Arctic. To test this hypothesis, we compared growth curves of chicks hatching in synchrony with peak periods of food abundance to those hatching outside of these peak periods. We also tested for changes in lay dates of shorebirds in the Canadian Arctic using recent and historical data. Mean daily temperatures during the laying period increased since the 1950s by up to 1.5 °C, and changes in lay dates were apparent for three shorebird species, yet differences in median lay dates between 1954 and 2005–2008 were only significant for White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis (Viellot, 1819)). During 2005–2008, there was only 1 year of relatively high synchrony between hatch and resource peaks. Asynchrony between hatch and peaks in Tipulidae biomass reduced growth rates in chicks of Baird’s Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii (Coues, 1861)). As anticipated changes in climate may decouple phenological events, the effects of asynchrony on growth rates of arctic-nesting birds warrant further investigation.

Keywords: Tipulidae; arthropodes; arthropods; décalage; mismatch; oiseaux de rivage; phenology; phénologie; shorebirds; tipulidés

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Chaire de Recherche du Canada en Conservation des Écosystèmes Nordiques et Centre d’études nordiques, Université du Québec à Rimouski, 300 Allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, QC G5L 3A1, Canada. 2: Royal Ontario Museum, Department of Natural History, 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6, Canada.

Publication date: 2012-08-11

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