Long-term fitness consequences of early conditions in the kittiwake

Journal of Animal Ecology
By: , and 



1. The long-term fitness consequences of conditions during development are receiving growing attention: they are at the interface between ecological and evolutionary processes. We addressed the influence of the length of the rearing period and 'rank' on fitness components in a long-lived seabird species with deferred breeding: the kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla). Rank, which depends on hatching order, was used as a surrogate for dominance status in the brood. Rank could be viewed as a random factor affecting individuals regardless of their possible 'intrinsic quality' at birth. The length of the rearing period was used as a surrogate for parental effort. It reflects the interaction between numerous factors such as environmental conditions, parental quality, reproductive decisions and effort, and also offspring decisions and intrinsic quality at birth. 2. There was evidence of an influence of the length of the rearing period on local survival before recruitment. Individuals with shorter rearing periods had lower local survival during the first winter (e.g. the relationship was positive). They may incur higher mortality. In rank 1 prebreeders, this relationship was negative in older age-classes. Longer rearing periods and better condition at independence may be associated with stronger migrating ability, and prebreeders that have not yet made settlement decisions may emigrate permanently to distant locations. Such a complex pattern may reflect age-related changes in the relative contribution of mortality and permanent emigration to local survival. 3. The length of the rearing period had long-term consequences on reproductive performance. The relationship was positive but the rate of increase decreased slightly at higher values of the covariate. 4. There was an unambiguously negative influence of rank on survival before recruitment and recruitment probability, but not on demographic parameters specific to the reproductive stage. Juniors recruited later than elder siblings. The disadvantage of juniors may be expressed mainly in terms of higher mortality and disappearance from the population before recruitment.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Long-term fitness consequences of early conditions in the kittiwake
Series title Journal of Animal Ecology
DOI 10.1046/j.1365-2656.2003.00708.x
Volume 72
Issue 3
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher British Ecological Society
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 14 p.
First page 411
Last page 424
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