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Annual productivity and individual female reproductive success in a Great Bustard Otis tarda population

Authors

  • Manuel B. Morales,

    1. Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain
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    • Present address: Depto. Interuniversitario de Ecología. Facultad de Ciencias (Biología), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain

  • Juan C. Alonso,

    1. Departamento de Biología Animal I (Zoología), Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense, 28040 Madrid, Spain
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  • Javier Alonso

    1. Departamento de Biología Animal I (Zoología), Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense, 28040 Madrid, Spain
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*Corresponding author. Email: jcalonso@mncn.csic.es

Abstract

The reproductive success of Great Bustards Otis tarda in north-western Spain was studied between 1987 and 1998, both at the population (c. 700 adult females breeding in our study area) and the individual level (sample of 32 marked females). Overall productivity was low, with a population mean of only 0.14 chicks reared per adult female, and an average breeding success of 0.15 chicks per year in the sample of marked females, but interannual variability was high (0.04–0.29). Population productivity was positively correlated with winter (October–March) precipitation prior to each breeding season, and negatively correlated with the number of days of rain during the hatching period. High annual productivity resulted from a high proportion of females rearing two chicks. Reproductive success was higher in females older than 6 years than in younger birds. The proportion of females in the marked sample that failed in breeding after having bred successfully the previous season was significantly higher than the proportion of those that did not. Finally, females with a higher than average breeding success tended to breed successfully in years of both low and high population productivity, whereas those with lower than average breeding success did so only in years of high productivity.

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