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Data from: Timing of arrival in the breeding area is repeatable and affects reproductive success in a non-migratory population of blue tits

Citation

Gilsenan, Carol; Valcu, Mihai; Kempenaers, Bart (2019), Data from: Timing of arrival in the breeding area is repeatable and affects reproductive success in a non-migratory population of blue tits, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2rbnzs7hz

Abstract

  1. Events in one part of the annual cycle often affect the performance (and subsequently fitness) of individuals later in the season (carry-over effects). An important aspect of this relates to the timing of activities. For example, many studies on migratory birds have shown that relatively late spring arrival in the breeding area reduces both the likelihood of getting a mate or territory and reproductive success.
  2. In contrast, relatively little is known about movements of individuals in non-migratory populations during the non-breeding season. Few studies have investigated the timing of arrival at the breeding area in such species, possibly due to the assumption that most individuals remain in the area during the non-breeding season.
  3. In this study, we used four years of data from a transponder-based automated recording system set up in a non-migratory population of blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) to describe individual variation in arrival at the breeding site. We investigated whether this variation can be explained by individual characteristics (sex, body size, or status), and we assessed its effect on aspects of reproductive success in the subsequent breeding season.
  4. We found substantial variation in arrival date and demonstrate that this trait is individual-specific (repeatable). Females arrived later than males, but the arrival dates of social pair members were more similar than expected by chance, which suggests that individuals may mate assortatively depending on their arrival in the breeding area. Arrival predicted both whether an individual would end up breeding that season, and several aspects of its breeding success.
  5. Our study suggests that individuals of non-migratory species leave the breeding area during the non-breeding season. Hence, it may be useful to consider variation in the scale of movements between breeding and non-breeding sites, rather than using a simple dichotomy between “resident” and “migratory” species. We conclude that the timing of pre-breeding events, in particular arrival date, may be an overlooked, but important, fitness-relevant trait in non-migratory species.