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Anthropogenic natal environmental effects on life histories in a wild bird population

Cartwright, S. J., Nicoll, M. A. C., Jones, C. G., Tatayah, V. and Norris, K. (2014) Anthropogenic natal environmental effects on life histories in a wild bird population. Current Biology, 24 (5). pp. 536-540. ISSN 0960-9822

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.040

Abstract/Summary

Recent work suggests that the environment experienced in early life can alter life histories in wild populations [1, 2, 3, 4 and 5], but our understanding of the processes involved remains limited [6 and 7]. Since anthropogenic environmental change is currently having a major impact on wild populations [8], this raises the possibility that life histories may be influenced by human activities that alter environmental conditions in early life. Whether this is the case and the processes involved remain unexplored in wild populations. Using 23 years of longitudinal data on the Mauritius kestrel (Falco punctatus), a tropical forest specialist, we found that females born in territories affected by anthropogenic habitat change shifted investment in reproduction to earlier in life at the expense of late life performance. They also had lower survival rates as young adults. This shift in life history strategy appears to be adaptive, because fitness was comparable to that of other females experiencing less anthropogenic modification in their natal environment. Our results suggest that human activities can leave a legacy on wild birds through natal environmental effects. Whether these legacies have a detrimental effect on populations will depend on life history responses and the extent to which these reduce individual fitness.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Biodiversity, Crops and Agroecosystems Division > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:36383
Publisher:Elsevier

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