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Reproductive timing and investment in relation to spring warming and advancing agricultural schedules
Schroeder, J.; Piersma, T.; Groen, N.M.; Hooijmeijer, J.C.E.W.; Kentie, R.; Lourenço, P.M.; Schekkerman, H.; Both, C. (2012). Reproductive timing and investment in relation to spring warming and advancing agricultural schedules. J. Ornithol. 153(2): 327-336.
In: Journal of Ornithology. Springer: Berlin. ISSN 2193-7192, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

    Limosa limosa (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Black-tailed Godwit; Climate change; Agricultural change; Farmlandbirds; Reproductive investment; Seasonal reproductive decline

Authors  Top 
  • Schroeder, J.
  • Piersma, T., more
  • Groen, N.M.
  • Hooijmeijer, J.C.E.W.
  • Kentie, R.
  • Lourenço, P.M.
  • Schekkerman, H.
  • Both, C.

    Advances in mowing schedules have led to early and rapid declines in the seasonal food availability for, and survival rates of, chicks of grassland-breeding waders. Concurrently, increased levels of soil fertilization may have improved food abundance for adults. These developments are assumed to have resulted in an advancement of laying during 1930-1976 in several meadowbird species, including Black-tailed Godwits. Despite an apparent selective advantage of early breeding, after 1976 Godwits stopped advancing their laying dates. We have analyzed the timing of breeding and reproductive investment in Dutch Black-tailed Godwits relative to recent changes in agricultural practices and climate during 1976-2007. Early and late spring temperatures and precipitation in March were used as indicators for the timing of fertilizer application and mowing, and also as qualitative measures of relative food availability for adults and chicks. When precipitation was higher in March, Black-tailed Godwits laid earlier. Following warmer winters, the earliest females laid larger eggs, which hatched heavier Chicks with a higher survival probability. We suggest that the positive effect of an increasing March precipitation on invertebrate abundance may be constrained by the current policy of rigid control of the water table. This policy prevents Godwits from further advancing laying dates, which would increase their chick's survival prospects under increasingly early mowing schedules. Policy-makers should, next to delaying mowing schedules, also consider reduced draining in early spring as a tool to help stop the population decline of the Black-tailed Godwit.

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