Survivorship and life history strategies in relation to migration distance in western and semipalmated sandpipers in Perú

Date created: 
2020-03-31
Identifier: 
etd20884
Keywords: 
Shorebirds
Survivorship
Migration distance
Oversummering
Pre-migratory molt
Paracas
Abstract: 

This thesis explored the relationships between life history, migration distance, survivorship components of fitness, and molt strategies of Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers in one of the most austral non-breeding sites for both species, at Paracas, Perú. I asked how migration distance relates to pre-migratory preparation, survivorship and migratory decisions for different age classes and ecological circumstances between species and within populations. I focused particularly on how timing of first breeding relates to survivorship and thus future overall fitness. I found that adults from both species prepare for northward migration, but no juvenile Western Sandpipers did so, confirming a non-migratory over-summering ‘slow’ life history strategy for more southerly non-breeding populations. Juvenile Semipalmated Sandpipers showed bimodality in migration strategy. Most showed no migratory preparation, but ~30% fattened, molted into breeding plumage, and performed partial post-juvenal wing molt (PPW) during the pre-migratory period. The frequency of PPW is positively related to culmen length (as a proxy for eastern breeding birds with a shorter migration distance). To decompose survivorship between migrant and oversummering (resident) Semipalmated Sandpipers, I used a multi-state model with 5 years of data and found survivorship 8 percentage point higher for oversummering juveniles and 21 percentage points higher for oversummering adults compared to same aged migrant birds, as expected as compensation for the loss of a breeding opportunity. I estimated annual survivorship with an open robust multi state model using 7 years of mark-resighting data from several thousand shorebirds marked at Paracas. As predicted by some migration theories, both species had higher annual survival estimates than those obtained previously at non-breeding sites further north. Western Sandpiper juveniles also had substantially higher annual survival estimates than adults, in line with the predicted survivorship benefits needed to offset their delayed reproduction. I found that the size of the survival advantage in juvenile Semipalmated Sandpipers is migration distance dependent. Western, but not Semipalmated Sandpipers showed a negative relationship in survival with the ENSO warm phase, probably due to the former’s closer association with the Pacific migratory flyway. Finally, I corroborated that the size of the survival advantage is distance dependent. My results provide novel information on non-breeding shorebird survivorship and perspective on the interrelationships that drive avian life history strategies. I confirm that Paracas is also a site with high demographic value.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ronald Ydenberg
Department: 
Science: Biological Sciences Department
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Statistics: