From individual to population level: Temperature and snow cover modulate fledging success through breeding phenology in greylag geese (Anser anser)

Didone Frigerio, Petra Sumasgutner, Kurt Kotrschal, Sonia Kleindorfer, Josef Hemetsberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Local weather conditions may be used as environmental cues by animals to optimize their breeding behaviour, and could be affected by climate change. We measured associations between climate, breeding phenology, and reproductive output in greylag geese (Anser anser) across 29 years (1990–2018). The birds are individually marked, which allows accurate long-term monitoring of life-history parameters for all pairs within the flock. We had three aims: (1) identify climate patterns at a local scale in Upper Austria, (2) measure the association between climate and greylag goose breeding phenology, and (3) measure the relationship between climate and both clutch size and fledging success. Ambient temperature increased 2 °C across the 29-years study period, and higher winter temperature was associated with earlier onset of egg-laying. Using the hatch-fledge ratio, average annual temperature was the strongest predictor for the proportion of fledged goslings per season. There is evidence for an optimum time window for egg-laying (the earliest and latest eggs laid had the lowest fledging success). These findings broaden our understanding of environmental effects and population-level shifts which could be associated with increased ambient temperature and can thus inform future research about the ecological consequences of climate changes and reproductive output in avian systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16100
Number of pages16
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Early online date9 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • greylag geese
  • Anser anser
  • Local weather conditions
  • breeding behaviour
  • climate change
  • breeding phenology
  • reproductive output

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