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Data from: Spring weather conditions influence breeding phenology and reproductive success in sympatric bat populations.

Citation

Linton, Danielle M.; Macdonald, David W. (2019), Data from: Spring weather conditions influence breeding phenology and reproductive success in sympatric bat populations., Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.h7m5f83

Abstract

1. Climate is known to influence breeding phenology and reproductive success in temperate zone bats, but long-term population level studies and interspecific comparisons are rare. 2. Investigating the extent to which intrinsic (i.e. age), and extrinsic (i.e. spring weather conditions), factors influence such key demographic parameters as the proportion of females becoming pregnant, or completing lactation, each breeding season, is vital to understanding of bat population ecology and life-history traits. 3. Using data from twelve breeding seasons (2006 - 2017), encompassing the reproductive histories of 623 Myotis daubentonii and 436 M. nattereri adult females, we compare rates of recruitment to the breeding population, and show that these species differ in their relative sensitivity to environmental conditions and climatic variation, affecting annual reproductive success at the population level. 4. We demonstrate that i) Spring weather conditions influence breeding phenology, with warm, dry and calm conditions leading to earlier parturition dates and advanced juvenile development, whilst cold, wet and windy weather delays birth timing and juvenile growth, ii) Reproductive rates in first-year females are influenced by spring weather conditions in that breeding season and in the preceding breeding season when each cohort was born. Pregnancy and lactation rates were both higher when favourable spring foraging conditions were more prevalent, iii) Reproductive success increases with age in both species, but at different rates, iv) Reproductive rates were consistently higher, and showed less inter-annual variation, in second-year and older M. daubentonii (mean 91.55% ± 0.05 SD) than M. nattereri (mean 72.74% ± 0.15 SD), v) Estimates of reproductive success at the population level were highly correlated with the size of the juvenile cohort recorded each breeding season. 5. Improving understanding of the influence of environmental conditions, especially extreme climatic fluctuations, and the identification of critical periods (i.e. spring for reproductive female bats in temperate zones), which have disproportionate and lasting impacts on breeding phenology and reproductive success at a population level, is critical for improving predictions of the likely impact of climate change on bat populations.

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