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Time, geography and weather provide insights into the ecological strategy of a migrant species

AuthorsNadal, Jesús; Ponz, Carolina; Comas, Carles; Margalida, Antoni
KeywordsSpatio-temporal distribution
Weather variables
Migratory bird
Geographic areas
Age-sex models
Seasonal stages
Conservation implications
Life strategy
Issue Date2019
CitationScience of the Total Environment 649: 1096-1104 (2019)
AbstractFarmland and migratory bird populations are in decline. The Common quail (Coturnix coturnix) provides an exception to this trend and its populations have remained stable over the last two decades. However, some basic facts regarding quail biology and ecology, such as the geographic distribution of age and sex classes during the summer, remain poorly understood. We analyzed 43,194 Spanish quail ringing records from 1961 to 2014 to assess the effects of geography and weather conditions on the probability that individuals will be ringed during the various stages of their annual cycle (arrival –spring migration-, stationary breeding period, departure –autumn migration- and winter) for the different quail age-sex classes over time. We found that spatial distribution of the age and sex classes can be explained by date, latitude, longitude, altitude, rainfall, and temperature. Our results suggest that date accounts for most of the variation in the distribution of quail age classes, followed by the weather variables, and then latitude, and altitude. Similarly, date also accounts for most of the variation in the distribution of the two sexes. These results could partially explain why this species has avoided population decline, since its ecological strategy is based on its temporal and spatial distribution combined with the segregation of age and sex groups. We hypothesize that the distribution of quail age and sex classes follows variations in weather and habitat suitability to exploit seasonal and geographic variations in resource availability. The migratory and nomadic movements of quail, combined with the occurrence of multiple breeding attempts within a single season, may also allow these birds to overcome the impacts of predators and anthropogenic environmental change. Conservation and management efforts should therefore take account of these age and sex related temporal and spatial patterns.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.345
e-issn: 1879-1026
issn: 0048-9697
Appears in Collections:(IREC) Artículos
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