Understanding how environmental conditions affect growth is important because conditions experienced during early develop- ment could have immediate as well as long-term fitness consequences. Annual fluctuations in (environmental) conditions may influence life histories of entire cohorts of offspring. In birds, food availability and weather have been identified to affect chick growth. However, the relative importance of these factors in explaining growth in different years is poorly understood. We studied the growth of golden plover Pluvialis apricaria chicks by radio-tracking individuals from hatching till fledging and related variation in chick growth to food availability (as sampled by pitfall trapping) and weather conditions. 2011 appeared to be a favourable season in which the chicks achieved notably fast growth rates. In 2013, in contrast, chicks were lagging behind in growth and possibly even achieved smaller ultimate sizes. Food abundance had a dominant effect on growth, whereas temper- ature only had short-term effects (at least in body weight). Thus, variation in food availability rather than variation in weather could explain the marked difference in growth of the plover chicks between the years. A short but intense flush of Bibio flies late in the breeding season in 2011 seems the reason why the plover
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 21, 2018
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