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Examining the effects of local weather variation on the seasonal fecundity of passerines, using the Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica as a model

Facey, Richard 2021. Examining the effects of local weather variation on the seasonal fecundity of passerines, using the Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica as a model. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Climate change will result in shifts in local weather conditions, with ramifications for important demographic processes such as seasonal fecundity. These may be mediated by the behavioural and strategic decisions associated with them. Despite predictions of increased wind speeds, few studies have examined the impact of wind, or the interactive effects of different weather variables, on seasonal fecundity. I test for these using the Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica as a model species. Twenty years of nest data from across Britain revealed interactive effects of both weather and land use on clutch size, hatching success and brood size. Next, a model to describe seasonal fecundity based on a single population, that simultaneously considered weather-related carry-over effects from one stage to the next, revealed not all stages of seasonal fecundity were affected equally by weather. Conditions that promoted a positive response in one stage often resulted in a negative response in the following stage: for example conditions that promoted higher clutch sizes often resulted in reduced hatching success. I next examined weather-related effects on female incubation behaviour; the sensitivity of which varied between hourly and daily time scales. There were weather related impacts, including from wind speed, on both female behaviour and the thermal environment of the nest. Similarly, the mass of nestlings was more sensitive to weather than that of recent fledglings at both daily and lifetime scales. Nestling mass was negatively related to both temperature and rainfall, but this relationship was mediated by wind speed. Fledgling mass declined with temperature on days with high rainfall. Overall, my results show that the interactive effects of weather can have important implications for seasonal fecundity. Wind speed typically has an overall negative effect on seasonal fecundity, through increasing the negative effects of rainfall or temperature; this may have implications for population trends and persistence of species such as the Barn Swallow, given predictions for increased wind speeds under future climate change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 February 2022
Date of Acceptance: 21 February 2022
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2023 02:59

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