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Nonbreeding-Season Drivers of Population Dynamics in Seasonal Migrants: Conservation Parallels Across Taxa

Author(s): Anna M. Calvert | Sandra J. Walde | Philip D. Taylor

Journal: Avian Conservation and Ecology
ISSN 1712-6568

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 5;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: carry-over | demography | migration | nonbreeding | seasonal interaction | survivorship

For seasonal migrants, logistical constraints have often limited conservation efforts to improving survival and reproduction during the breeding season only. Yet, mounting empirical evidence suggests that events occurring throughout the migratory life cycle can critically alter the demography of many migrant species. Herein, we build upon recent syntheses of avian migration research to review the role of non-breeding seasons in determining the population dynamics and fitness of diverse migratory taxa, including salmonid fishes, marine mammals, ungulates, sea turtles, butterflies, and numerous bird groups. We discuss several similarities across these varied migrants: (i) non-breeding survivorship tends to be a strong driver of population growth; (ii) non-breeding events can affect fitness in subsequent seasons through seasonal interactions at individual- and population-levels; (iii) broad-scale climatic influences often alter non-breeding resources and migration timing, and may amplify population impacts through covariation among seasonal vital rates; and (iv) changes to both stationary and migratory non-breeding habitats can have important consequences for abundance and population trends. Finally, we draw on these patterns to recommend that future conservation research for seasonal migrants will benefit from: (1) more explicit recognition of the important parallels among taxonomically diverse migratory animals; (2) an expanded research perspective focused on quantification of all seasonal vital rates and their interactions; and (3) the development of detailed population projection models that account for complexity and uncertainty in migrant population dynamics.
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