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Phenological tracking of a seasonal climate window in a recovering tropical island bird species

Taylor, J., Nicoll, M. A. C., Black, E. ORCID:, Wainwright, C. M. ORCID:, Jones, C. G., Tatayah, V., Vidale, P. L. and Norris, K. (2021) Phenological tracking of a seasonal climate window in a recovering tropical island bird species. Climatic Change, 164. 41. ISSN 0165-0009

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10584-021-02971-y


Constraints on evolutionary adaptation and range shifts mean that phenotypic plasticity, which includes physiological, developmental or behavioural responses to environmental conditions, could be an important mode of adaptation to a changing climate for many species with small insular populations. While there is evidence to suggest adaptive plasticity to climate in some island populations, little is known about this capacity in species that have experienced a severe population bottleneck. In a changing climate, plasticity in the timing of life-history events, such as in breeding phenology, is adaptive if timing is optimised in seasonal environments, although these processes are poorly understood for tropical species. Here, we quantify the effects of climate on the breeding phenology and success of the Mauritius kestrel (Falco punctatus), a tropical raptor whose extinction has been averted by conservation management. We show that the timing of egg-laying is advancing in response to warming, at rates similar to temperate bird populations. Individual females show plasticity to temperature, although there is limited variation among individual responses. We show that advances in breeding phenology are likely to be adaptive, as they track changes in a seasonal climate window of favourable conditions, defined by late winter-early spring temperatures and the onset of the summer rainy season. Our results provide a rare example of a small and bottlenecked insular population that has adjusted to recent climate change through phenotypic plasticity. Furthermore, seasonal climate windows and their dynamics may be widespread mechanisms through which tropical species are impacted by and respond to climate change.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:96276


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