Consecutive cohort effects driven by density-dependence and climate influence early-life survival in a long-lived bird

A. Payo-Payo*, M. Genovart, A. Bertolero, R. Pradel, D. Oro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Conditions during early life, including maternal cohort effects, can influence the future fitness of individuals. This may be particularly true for longdistance migrating birds, because, apart from conditions experienced by cohorts during rearing, conditions during early life in regions far from breeding grounds may also influence their population dynamics. Very little is known about the fitness consequences of those conditions experienced by juveniles after independence, especially in wild populations and for longlived birds. We used multi-event capture-recapture-recovery models and a unique 26-year dataset for the Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii) to assess for the first time whether survival was influenced by early conditions, both during the rearing period (i.e. a maternal cohort effect potentially affected by density dependence) and the first winter (i.e. a cohort effect driven by climate when birds disperse to wintering grounds). Our results show that juvenile survivalwas highly sensitive to early-life conditions and that survival decreased with stronger density dependence and harsh climate. The two consecutive cohort effects were of similar magnitude and they may represent a selection filter. Thus, early-life conditions had a strong impact on survival, and neglecting this complexity may hinder our understanding on how populations of long-lived animals fluctuate and respond to perturbations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20153042
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1829
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

We received funding for this study from Ministerio de Educación y ciencia (FPU-AP 2012-0869) and Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad ((IBISES) CGL 2013-42203-R, EU H2020 RIA; (MINOUW) 634495).

We thank the staff of the PEG (IMEDEA) and the Delta de l'Ebre NP, in particular Julia Piccardo, for helping with the fieldwork over the years. G. Tavecchia and P. Monaghan kindly made very valuable comments on the manuscript.


  • Density dependence
  • Early-life conditions
  • First-year
  • Long-lived seabird
  • Survival
  • Winter


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