Data from: Life history plasticity of a tropical seabird in response to El Niño anomalies during early life
Ancona, Sergio; Drummond, Hugh (2013), Data from: Life history plasticity of a tropical seabird in response to El Niño anomalies during early life, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2mg77
Food shortage and other challenges associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) experienced early in life may have long-term impacts on life history traits, but these potential impacts remain virtually unexplored. By monitoring 2556 blue-footed boobies from 11 cohorts, we showed that birds facing warm water ENSO conditions (and probably low food availability) in the natal year were underweight at fledging, recruited earlier and bred less frequently, but showed no deficit in longevity or breeding success over the first 10 years. Life history impacts of ENSO were substantial when experienced in the prenatal year, the natal year, or the second year of life, and absent when experienced in the third year of life, implying that harsh conditions have greater effects when experienced earlier in life. Sexual differences in impacts depended on the age when warm water conditions were experienced: pre-natal and natal experience, respectively, induced early recruitment and influenced the relationship between age and laying date only in females, whereas second year experience reduced total breeding success only of males. Most surprising were positive transgenerational impacts in females: daughters of females that experienced ENSO conditions in their natal year showed improved breeding success. Developmental plasticity of boobies thus enables them to largely neutralize potential long-term impacts of harsh climatic conditions experienced early in life.