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Lazy Mountain, AK, United States

Vincenzi S.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Vincenzi S.,Polytechnic of Milan | Vincenzi S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Hatch S.,U.S. Geological Survey | And 4 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2015

Supplementation of food to wild animals is extensively applied as a conservation tool to increase local production of young. However, in long-lived migratory animals, the carry-over effects of food supplementation early in life on the subsequent recruitment of individuals into natal populations and their lifetime reproductive success are largely unknown. We examine how experimental food supplementation early in life affects: (i) recruitment as breeders of kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla born in a colony on Middleton Island (Alaska) between 1996 and 2006 (n = 1629) that bred in the same colony through 2013 (n = 235); and (ii) breeding success of individuals that have completed their life cycle at the colony (n = 56). Birds were raised in nests that were either supplemented with food (Fed) or unsupplemented (Unfed). Fledging success was higher in Fed compared with Unfed nests. After accounting for hatching rank, growth and oceanic conditions at fledging, Fed fledglings had a lower probability of recruiting as breeders in the Middleton colony than Unfed birds. The per-nest contribution of breeders was still significantly higher for Fed nests because of their higher productivity. Lifetime reproductive success of a subset of kittiwakes that thus far had completed their life cycle was not affected by the food supplementation during development. Our results cast light on the carry-over effects of early food conditions on the vital rates of long-lived animals and support food supplementation as an effective conservation strategy for long-lived seabirds. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Merkling T.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Merkling T.,Australian National University | Welcker J.,Norwegian Polar Institute | Welcker J.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 8 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2015

Sex allocation theory predicts that parents should bias offspring sex according to the costs and benefits associated with producing either sex in a given context. Accurately interpreting sex-ratio biases, therefore, requires a precise identification of these selective pressures. However, such information is generally lacking. This may partly explain the inconsistency in reported sex allocation patterns, especially in vertebrates. We present data from a long-term feeding experiment in black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) that allowed us to increase investment capacity for some breeding pairs. Previous findings showed that these pairs then overproduced sons compared with control parents. Here, our aim was to test the underlying assumptions of the 2 appropriate sex allocation models for our context: the "cost of reproduction hypothesis" and the "Trivers-Willard hypothesis." The former assumes a sex difference in rearing costs, whereas the latter assumes a difference in fitness returns. 1) Independent of feeding treatment, rearing sons was energetically more demanding for parents (as revealed by higher energy expenditure and higher baseline corticosterone levels) than rearing daughters, thereby corroborating the underlying assumption of the "cost of reproduction hypothesis." 2) Evidence supporting the assumptions of the "Trivers-Willard hypothesis" was less convincing. Overall, our results suggest that drivers of parental sex allocation decisions are probably more related to offspring sex-specific energetic costs than to their future reproductive success in our study species. Assessing the adaptive value of sex-ratio biases requires precise investigation of the assumptions underlying theoretical models, particularly as long as the mechanisms involved in sex-ratio manipulation remain largely unknown. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology.


Merkling T.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Merkling T.,University Paul Sabatier | Agdere L.,CNRS Biological Evolution and Diversity Laboratory | Agdere L.,University Paul Sabatier | And 10 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology | Year: 2014

In unpredictable environments, any tactic that enables avian parents to adjust brood size and, thus, energy expenditure to environmental conditions should be favoured. Hatching asynchrony (HA), which occurs whenever incubation commences before clutch completion, may comprise such a tactic. For instance, the sibling rivalry hypothesis states that the hierarchy among chicks, concomitant to HA, should both facilitate the adjustment of brood size to environmental conditions and reduce several components of sibling competition as compared to synchronous hatching, at both brood and individual levels. We thus predicted that brood aggression, begging and feeding rates should decrease and that older chick superiority should increase with HA increasing, leading to higher growth and survival rates. Accordingly, we investigated the effects of an experimental upward and downward manipulation of HA magnitude on behaviour, growth and survival of black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)chicks. In line with the sibling rivalry hypothesis, synchronous hatching increased aggression and tended to increase feeding rates by parents at the brood level. Begging rates, however, increased with HA contrary to our expectations. At the individual level, as HA magnitude increased, the younger chick was attacked and begged proportionally more often, experienced a slower growth and a higher mortality than its sibling. Overall, the occurrence of energetic costs triggered by synchronous hatching both for parents and chicks, together with the lower growth rate and increased mortality of the younger chick in highly asynchronous broods suggest that natural HA magnitude may be optimal. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013.


Schultner J.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Schultner J.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Kitaysky A.S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Gabrielsen G.W.,Norwegian Polar Institute | And 3 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

Life-history strategies describe that 'slow'- in contrast to 'fast'-living species allocate resources cautiously towards reproduction to enhance survival. Recent evidence suggests that variation in strategies exists not only among species but also among populations of the same species. Here, we examined the effect of experimentally induced stress on resource allocation of breeding seabirds in two populations with contrasting life-history strategies: Slowliving Pacific and fast-living Atlantic black-legged kittiwakes. We tested the hypothesis that reproductive responses in kittiwakes under stress reflect their life-history strategies. We predicted that in response to stress, Pacific kittiwakes reduce investment in reproduction compared with Atlantic kittiwakes. We exposed chick-rearing kittiwakes to a short-term (3-day) period of increased exogenous corticosterone (CORT), a hormone that is released during food shortages. We examined changes in baseline CORT levels, parental care and effects on offspring. We found that kittiwakes from the two populations invested differently in offspring when facing stress. In response to elevated CORT, Pacific kittiwakes reduced nest attendance and deserted offspring more readily than Atlantic kittiwakes. We observed lower chick growth, a higher stress response in offspring and lower reproductive success in response to CORT implantation in Pacific kittiwakes, whereas the opposite occurred in the Atlantic. Our findings support the hypothesis that lifehistory strategies predict short-term responses of individuals to stress within a species. We conclude that behaviour and physiology under stress are consistent with trade-off priorities as predicted by life-history theory. We encourage future studies to consider the pivotal role of life-history strategies when interpreting inter-population differences of animal responses to stressful environmental events. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.


Abbott C.L.,Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Center | Millikin R.L.,Environment Canada | Hipfner M.J.,Environment Canada | Hatch S.,Institute for Seabird Research and Conservation | And 3 more authors.
Marine Biology | Year: 2014

Data from eight microsatellite markers screened in 246 rhinoceros auklets (Cerorhinca monocerata) from across the North Pacific revealed multiple genetic groups. The east (North America) to west (Japan) split was clearly evident in all analyses. Within the eastern Pacific, a minimum of three genetic groups are present. Surprisingly, rhinoceros auklets from Triangle Island, British Columbia, were genetically isolated from other nearby populations, including the breeding colony on Pine Island (~100 km to the east). A fourth genetic cluster (Chowiet Is) was detected using principal coordinate's analysis; however, sample sizes were limited. Patterns of differentiation correspond to nonbreeding distributions with the eastern and western Pacific birds spending time off the west coast of North America and Japan, respectively, and may represent historical isolation in separate refugia during the Pleistocene glaciations. The patterns of genetic structure result from a combination of historical and contemporary factors influencing dispersal of rhinoceros auklets. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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