Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/26684
Appears in Collections:eTheses from Faculty of Natural Sciences legacy departments
Title: Population ecology and lifetime reproductive success of dippers Cinclus cinclus
Author(s): Logie, John W.
Issue Date: 1998
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Acidified catchments are known to hold significantly reduced dipper Cinclus cinclus populations throughout the year relative to circum-neutral rivers, although the processes leading to these declines remain unclear. This study considered the population ecology of dippers within the circumneutral River Devon catchment, Central Scotland, and focused primarily on determining the factors influencing survival, breeding probabilities and reproductive success. It aimed to examine the role of spatial variation in 'habitat quality' on the population (and meta-population) dynamics of dippers, based on measures of seasonal and lifetime reproductive success, and the balance between survival and reproduction; in particular, to assess if the reduced reproductive success of dippers on acid rivers is likely to lead to population declines. Within the Devon catchment, approximately 81% of all adults survived from spring (March/April) to autumn (September/October), with 65% of these birds surviving from autumn to the following breeding season. Overall, these estimates predicted annual adult survival rates of c.53%, with no significant differences between years. Population density had no detectable effect on adult mortality rates, although juvenile over-winter survival was significantly lower than the adult rate at between 40 and 58%, and negatively related to the total size of the autumn population. There was no evidence of sex differences in juvenile over-winter survival, or any significant influence of weather or river flows on the rates for adults or juveniles. The local post-fledging survival of females was significantly lower than for males, however, apparently reflecting sex differences in post-natal dispersal. On average, less than 6.5% of all eggs laid, or 10.4-14.5% of male and 6.3-9.2% of female fledglings raised within the Devon catchment survived locally to breeding age. Juvenile, although not adult, recapture rates in spring were significantly lower than for birds known to have bred previously and negatively related to spring river flows. This suggested that with recapture dependent on a breeding attempt that was successful at least until laying, either more first year birds failed during the initial stages of nesting or that full breeding was not achieved at age one. The birds fledging the most young, both within a season and over a lifetime, all bred at 'prime' lowland sites characterised by wide, shallow rivers of intermediate gradient, although with less than 10% of all birds attempting to raise a second brood each year, no significant habitat differences were identified in any component of reproductive output measured until fledging. River width, altitude and gradient were all significantly inter-correlated and related to laying date, however, and post-fledging survival was significantly reduced for late fledged young. On average, lowland birds laid earlier than upland breeders, and were significantly more likely to produce autumn 'recruits' due to the enhanced post-fledging survival prospects of their young. This suggested that broad measures of river structure can provide a biologically appropriate classification of habitat quality. The size of the breeding population of dippers within the Devon catchment appeared to be related to the availability of critical resources, most likely food, roost sites and ultimately breeding territories through density-dependent changes in over-winter mortality and recruitment. The relative importance of resource abundance and recruitment levels in determining autumn population densities on acid streams still remained unclear, although reference to published relationships between acidity and reproductive success suggested that with adult survival at the rate estimated for the Devon catchment, many dipper populations are unlikely to produce sufficient recruits to match all adult losses, and may only persist with continued immigration from more productive (circumneutral) catchments elsewhere.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/26684

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