When Siberia came to the Netherlands: The response of continental black-tailed godwits to a rare spring weather event

Journal of Animal Ecology
By: , and 

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Summary

  1. Extreme weather events have the potential to alter both short- and long-term population dynamics as well as community- and ecosystem-level function. Such events are rare and stochastic, making it difficult to fully document how organisms respond to them and predict the repercussions of similar events in the future.
  2. To improve our understanding of the mechanisms by which short-term events can incur long-term consequences, we documented the behavioural responses and fitness consequences for a long-distance migratory bird, the continental black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa limosa, resulting from a spring snowstorm and three-week period of record low temperatures.
  3. The event caused measurable responses at three spatial scales – continental, regional and local – including migratory delays (+19 days), reverse migrations (>90 km), elevated metabolic costs (+8·8% maintenance metabolic rate) and increased foraging rates (+37%).
  4. There were few long-term fitness consequences, however, and subsequent breeding seasons instead witnessed high levels of reproductive success and little evidence of carry-over effects.
  5. This suggests that populations with continued access to food, behavioural flexibility and time to dissipate the costs of the event can likely withstand the consequences of an extreme weather event. For populations constrained in one of these respects, though, extreme events may entail extreme ecological consequences.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title When Siberia came to the Netherlands: The response of continental black-tailed godwits to a rare spring weather event
Series title Journal of Animal Ecology
DOI 10.1111/1365-2656.12381
Volume 84
Issue 5
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher University Press
Publisher location Cambridge, UK
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB
Description 13 p.
First page 1164
Last page 1176
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N