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Data sets for Interacting effects of cold snaps, rain, and agriculture on the fledging success of a declining aerial insectivore


Garrett, Daniel (2022), Data sets for Interacting effects of cold snaps, rain, and agriculture on the fledging success of a declining aerial insectivore, Dryad, Dataset,


Climate change predicts the increased frequency, duration, and intensity of inclement weather periods, such as unseasonably low temperatures (i.e., cold snaps) and prolonged precipitation. Many migratory species have advanced the phenology of important life history stages, and as a result will likely be exposed to these periods of inclement spring weather more often, thus risking reduced fitness and population growth. For declining avian species, including aerial insectivores, anthropogenic landscape changes such as agricultural intensification are another driver of population declines. These landscape changes may affect the foraging ability of food provisioning parents, and reduce the survival of nestlings exposed to inclement weather, through for example pesticide exposure impairing thermoregulation and punctual anorexia. Breeding in agro-intensive landscapes may thus exacerbate the negative effects of inclement weather under climate change. We observed that a significant reduction in the availability of insect prey occurred when daily maximum temperatures fell below 18.3°C, and thereby defined any day where the maximum temperature fell below this value as a day witnessing a cold snap. We then combined daily information on the occurrence of cold snaps and measures of precipitation to assess their impact on the fledging success of Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) occupying a nest box system placed across a gradient of agricultural intensification. Estimated fledging success of this declining aerial insectivore was 36.2% lower for broods experiencing four cold snap days during the 12 days post hatching period versus broods experiencing none, and this relationship was worsened when facing more precipitation. We further found that the overall negative effects of a brood experiencing periods of inclement weather was exacerbated in more agro-intensive landscapes. Our results indicate that two of the primary hypothesized drivers of many avian population declines may interact to further increase the rate of declines in certain landscape contexts.