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Title

A novel spatio-temporal scale based on ocean currents unravels environmental drivers of reproductive timing in a marine predator

AuthorsAfán, Isabel ; Chiaradia, André; Forero, Manuela G. ; Dann, Peter; Ramírez, Francisco
KeywordsSpatio-temporal scale,
Marine productivity
Reproductive timing
Ocean currents
Environmental cue
Issue Date2015
PublisherRoyal Society (Great Britain)
CitationProceedings of the Royal Society of London - B, 282 (1810), 2015
AbstractLife-history strategies have evolved in response to predictable patterns of environmental features. In practice, linking life-history strategies and changes in environmental conditions requires comparable space–time scales between both processes, a difficult match in most marine system studies. We propose a novel spatio-temporal and dynamic scale to explore marine productivity patterns probably driving reproductive timing in the inshore little penguin (Eudyptula minor), based on monthly data on ocean circulation in the Southern Ocean, Australia. In contrast to what occurred when considering any other fixed scales, little penguin's highly variable laying date always occurred within the annual peak of ocean productivity that emerged from our newly defined dynamic scale. Additionally, local sea surface temperature seems to have triggered the onset of reproduction, acting as an environmental cue informing on marine productivity patterns at our dynamic scale. Chlorophyll-a patterns extracted from this scale revealed that environment factors in marine ecosystems affecting breeding decisions are related to a much wider region than foraging areas that are commonly used in current studies investigating the link between animals' life history and their environment. We suggest that marine productivity patterns may be more predictable than previously thought when environmental and biological data are examined at appropriate scales.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.0721
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/121431
DOI10.1098/rspb.2015.0721
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