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Cascading effects of climate variability on the breeding success of an edge population of an apex predator

AuthorsGangoso, Laura ; Viana, Duarte S.; Dokter, Adriaan M.; Shamoun-Baranes, Judy; Figuerola, Jordi ; Barbosa, Sergio A.; Bouten, Willem
KeywordsBird migration
Forward trajectory model
Predator–prey interactions
Trade winds
Wind-driven food availability
Issue Date2020
PublisherBritish Ecological Society
CitationJournal of Animal Ecology, 2020
Abstract1. Large-scale environmental forces can influence biodiversity at different levels of biological organization. Climate, in particular, is often associated with species distributions and diversity gradients. However, its mechanistic link to population dynamics is still poorly understood. 2. Here, we unravelled the full mechanistic path by which a climatic driver, the Atlantic trade winds, determines the viability of a bird population. 3. We monitored the breeding population of Eleonora's falcons in the Canary Islands for over a decade (2007–2017) and integrated different methods and data to reconstruct how the availability of their prey (migratory birds) is regulated by trade winds. We tracked foraging movements of breeding adults using GPS, monitored departure of migratory birds using weather radar and simulated their migration trajectories using an individual-based, spatially explicit model. 4. We demonstrate that regional easterly winds regulate the flux of migratory birds that is available to hunting falcons, determining food availability for their chicks and consequent breeding success. By reconstructing how migratory birds are pushed towards the Canary Islands by trade winds, we explain most of the variation (up to 86%) in annual productivity for over a decade. 5. This study unequivocally illustrates how a climatic driver can influence local-scale demographic processes while providing novel evidence of wind as a major determinant of population fitness in a top predator
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13304
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