Understanding evolutionary consequences of intermittent breeding (non-breeding in individuals that previously bred) requires investigation of the relationships between adult breeding state and two demographic parameters: survival probability and subsequent breeding probability. One major difficulty raised by comparing the demographic features of breeders and nonbreeders as estimated from capture-recapture data is that breeding state is often suspected to influence recapture or resighting probability. We used multistate capture-recapture models to test the hypothesis of equal recapture probabilities for breeding and nonbreeding Kittiwakes and found no evidence of an effect of breeding state on this parameter. The same method was used to test whether reproductive state affects survival probability. Nonbreeding individuals have lower survival rates than breeders. Moreover, nonbreeders have a higher probability of being nonbreeders the following year than do breeders. State-specific survival rates and transition probabilities vary from year to year, but temporal variations of survival and transition probabilities of breeders and nonbreeders are in parallel (on a logit scale). These inferences led us to conclude that nonbreeders tend to be lower quality individuals. The effect of sex was also investigated: males and females do not differ with respect to survival probabilities when reproductive state is taken into account. Similarly, there is no effect of sex on transition probabilities between reproductive states.
Additional publication details
Are adult nonbreeders prudent parents? The kittiwake model