Oecologia | VOL. 118
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Food availability and nest predation influence life history traits in Audouin's gull, Larus audouinii

Publication Date Mar 23, 1999

Abstract

The effects of food availability and nest predation on several life history traits such as adult survival, dispersal, and reproductive performance were assessed in an Audouin's gull (Larus audouinii) colony during the period 1992-1997. The amounts of fish discarded from trawlers were used as a measure of food availability, and a trawling moratorium which partially overlapped with the breeding season of the gulls was taken into account. The effects of nest predation were assessed in 1994, when a terrestrial predator entered the colony and remained for the whole breeding season preying on both eggs and chicks. Using the moratorium and the predatory event as natural experiments, several hypotheses were tested: (a) food supply would affect breeding performance but not adult survival (independently of age and sex), since gulls are long-lived and adult survival is the most sensitive demographic parameter in their population dynamics; (b) the predator would trigger breeding dispersal (although gulls are mostly philopatric, they are known to abandon their natal colony after breeding failure instigated by events such as this). If breeding dispersal occurs, the rate is expected to be higher in females than in males, and higher in new breeders than in more experienced breeding birds, as is usually recorded in colonial seabirds. Probabilities of resighting and survival were estimated separately, using capture-recapture models. As expected, changes in food availability did not affect adult survival, whereas they influenced egg volume, cl...

Concepts

Effects Of Nest Predation Adult Survival Affect Breeding Performance Audouin's Gull Trawling Moratorium Changes In Food Availability Larus Audouinii Breeding Dispersal Breeding Failure Recapture Probabilities

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