Dependencies in the timing of activities weaken over the annual cycle in a long-distance migratory bird

van Wijk, Rien E.; Schaub, Michael; Bauer, Silke (2017). Dependencies in the timing of activities weaken over the annual cycle in a long-distance migratory bird. Behavioral ecology and sociobiology, 71(4) Springer 10.1007/s00265-017-2305-5

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Migrating birds have to incorporate migration into their annual cycle, next to breeding and moult. This presents the challenge to arrive at the right place at the right time at any given moment during the year to maximize fitness. Although many studies have investigated the timing of specific (life-history) activities of migrating birds, it is poorly studied how the timing and duration of these activities depend on each other and, ultimately, how they affect fitness. Therefore, we investigated variability and dependencies in the timing and duration of successive activities throughout the annual cycle and assessed their fitness consequences in hoopoes (Upupa epops), a long-distance migratory bird, using geolocator and
breeding phenology data of five consecutive years. We found that the timing and duration of seasonal activities generally depended on the timing and duration of the preceding activity; yet, the strength of these dependencies and the degree of variability varied between activities. The strongest dependencies were found between the end of breeding and departure from the breeding grounds as well as between the arrival in the breeding grounds and the onset of breeding. We also found fitness consequences of timing and duration but only for specific
activities: spring migration and particularly the duration of the pre-breeding period influenced the quality of the territory acquired as well as the total number of fledglings. Consequently, we suggest that our study species has the flexibility
to adjust the timing and duration of activities but to varying degrees. This is a step forward in understanding the time-constraints that migratory animals face and in identifying their fitness consequences.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Schaub, Michael


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)








Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

18 Apr 2018 11:15

Last Modified:

29 Oct 2019 03:07

Publisher DOI:





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