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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13162

COMBINED INFLUENCE OF INTRINSIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS IN SHAPING PRODUCTIVITY IN A SMALL PELAGIC GULL, THE BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE RISSA TRIDACTYLA

Aly McKnight*, David B. Irons, Cynthia S. Loftin, Shawn T. McKinney, Brian J. Olsen

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: While we have a good understanding in many systems of the effects of single variable changes on organisms, we understand far less about how variables act in concert to affect living systems, where interactions among variables can lead to unanticipated results. We used mixed-effect models to evaluate the effects of multiple variables that we expected to play a role in the early reproductive stages of a North Pacific seabird, the black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, during 1992 – 2008 using data collected on known-aged individuals. Our work revealed the potential for contrasting stressor effects across successive stages of reproduction. Bird age, timing of egg laying, and winter ENSO conditions best explained individual laying success, such that laying success was greater when parents were older, the average winter ENSO index was positive (as occurs during El Niño episodes), and the median laying date for the colony was earlier. Age and salmon run timing (a proxy for predator presence at the colony) best explained hatching success, such that hatching success was greater when parents were older and when salmon runs were early. Identifying such differential effects of multiple stressors across consecutive reproductive stages can greatly enhance our ability to interpret trends and manage populations in the face of changes currently occurring in living systems.