Data from: Age-specific offspring mortality economically tracks food abundance in a piscivorous seabird
Vedder, Oscar; Zhang, He; Dänhardt, Andreas; Bouwhuis, Sandra (2020), Data from: Age-specific offspring mortality economically tracks food abundance in a piscivorous seabird, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.ck1rb1g
Earlier offspring mortality prior to independence saves resources for kin, which should be more beneficial when food is short. Using 24 years of data on age-specific common tern (Sterna hirundo) chick mortality, best described by the Gompertz function, and estimates of energy consumption per age of mortality, we investigated how energy wasted on non-fledged chicks depends on brood size, hatching order and annual abundance of herring (Clupea harengus), the main food source. We found mortality directly after hatching (Gompertz baseline mortality) to be high and to increase with decreasing herring abundance. Mortality declined with age, at a rate relatively insensitive to herring abundance. The sensitivity of baseline mortality to herring abundance reduced energy wasted on non-fledged chicks when herring was short. Among chicks that did not fledge, last-hatched chicks were less costly than earlier hatched chicks, due to their earlier mortality. However, per hatchling produced, the least energy was wasted on chicks without siblings, due to their baseline mortality being most sensitive to herring abundance. We suggest that earlier mortality of offspring when food is short facilitates economic adjustment of post-hatching parental investment to food abundance, but that such economic brood reduction may be constrained by sibling competition.