Do environmental conditions experienced in early life affect recruitment age and performance at fi rst breeding in common goldeneye females?
Pöysä, Hannu; Clark, Robert G.; Paasivaara, Antti; Runko, Pentti (2017)
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Clark, Robert G.
Environmental conditions experienced early in life may have long-term impacts on life history traits and reproductive performance. We investigated whether ambient temperature experienced during the first two to four weeks of life and weather severity during the first two winters affected recruitment age and relative timing of breeding in the year of recruitment in female common goldeneyes Bucephala clangula. Our sample consisted of 141 female recruits hatched in a study population in central Finland between 1985 and 2013 and captured later as breeders. About 56% of the recruited females bred for the first time when two years old (range 2–6 yr). Individuals facing colder ambient temperatures during the first two to four weeks posthatch or more severe winter conditions during the first two winters did not recruit at an older age. Nor did maternal characteristics, relative hatch date or nest site availability affect recruitment age. For females that recruited at two years old, the date of first breeding was usually late relative to the population mean that year (mean difference 6.9 d, range –7 to 21 d). Our results suggest developmental buffering enables female goldeneye ducklings to mitigate the impacts of adverse environmental conditions experienced during the first weeks of life, at least in terms of first breeding.
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