Decomposing the seasonal fitness decline

M Öberg, T Pärt, D Arlt, Ane Laugen, M Low

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    Seasonal fitness declines are common, but the relative contribution of different reproductive components to the seasonal change in the production of reproductive young, and the component-specific drivers of this change is generally poorly known. We used long-term data (17 years) on breeding time (i.e. date of first egg laid) in northern wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) to investigate seasonal reproductive patterns and estimate the relative contributions of reproductive components to the overall decline in reproduction, while accounting for factors potentially linked to seasonal declines, i.e. individual and habitat quality. All reproductive components-nest success (reflecting nest predation rate), clutch size, fledging success and recruitment success-showed a clear decline with breeding time whereas subsequent adult survival did not. A non-linear increase in nest predation rate caused nest success to decline rapidly early in the season and level off at similar to 80 % success late in the breeding season. The combined seasonal decline in all reproductive components caused the mean production of recruits per nest to drop from around 0.7-0.2; with the relative contribution greatest for recruitment success which accounted for similar to 50 % of the decline. Our data suggest that changing environmental conditions together with effects of nest predation have strong effects on the seasonal decline in fitness. Our demonstration of the combined effects of all reproductive components and their relative contribution shows that omitting data from later stages of breeding (recruitment) can greatly underestimate seasonal fitness declines.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)139–150
    Number of pages12
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Date hypothesis
    • Farmland bird
    • Phenology
    • Quality hypothesis
    • Reproductive performance

    Cite this