We developed models for the analysis of recapture data for 2678 serins (Serinus serinus) ringed in north-eastern Spain since 1985. We investigated several time- and individual-specific factors as potential predictors of overall mortality and dispersal patterns, and of gender and age differences in these patterns. Time-specific covariates included minimum daily temperature, days below freezing, and abundance of a strong competitor, siskins (Carduelis spinus) during winter, and maximum temperature and rainfall during summer. Individual covariates included body mass (i.e. body condition), and wing length (i.e. flying ability), and interactions between body mass and environmental factors. We found little support of a predictive relationship between environmental factors and survival, but good evidence of relationships between body mass and survival, especially for juveniles. Juvenile survival appears to vary in a curvilinear manner with increasing mass, suggesting that there may exist an optimal mass beyond which increases are detrimental. The mass-survival relationship does seem to be influenced by at least one environmental factor, namely the abundance of wintering siskins. When siskins are abundant, increases in body mass appear to relate strongly to increasing survival. When siskin numbers are average or low the relationship is largely reversed, suggesting that the presence of strong competition mitigates the otherwise largely negative aspects of greater body mass. Wing length in juveniles also appears to be related positively to survival, perhaps largely due to the influence of a few unusually large juveniles with adult-like survival. Further work is needed to test these relationships, ideally under experimentation.
Additional publication details
Analysis of individual- and time-specific covariate effects on survival of Serinus serinus in north-eastern Spain