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Carry-over effects and habitat quality in migratory populations


  • D. Ryan Norris

D. R. Norris, Dept of Biology, Queen's Univ., Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6 ( Present address: Centre for Applied Conservation Research, Forest Sciences Centre, Univ. of British Columbia, 3041-2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1Z4.


Determining the factors that influence migratory population abundance has been constrained by the inability to connect events in different periods of the annual cycle. Carry-over effects are events that occur in one season but influence individual success the following season and recent empirical evidence suggests that they may play an important role in migratory population dynamics. Using a long distance migratory shorebird as an example, I incorporate carry-over effects and changes in the relative amount of habitat quality into a density-dependent equilibrium population model. The model uses the example where the quality of habitat on the wintering grounds (nonbreeding season) influences breeding output the following summer (breeding season). Carry-over effects, however, may be manifested in a number of other ways that could influence population dynamics. In the simulations, population declines occur when habitat is lost on the wintering grounds. However, results show that carry-over effects can magnify these declines when a disproportionate amount of high quality habitat is lost the previous winter. Simulations also show that carry-over effects can have a relative, positive impact on population size when the majority of habitat that is lost in the previous season is low quality. In this case, the carry-over interacts with density-dependence the following season producing an additive and positive effect, buffering the population from severe declines. To predict changes in population size of migratory animals, it will be important to determine (i) which demographic factors in which season produce strong carry-over effects and, (ii) not just the amount, but the relative quality of habitat that is lost. If carry-over effects are significant, they could potentially mitigate ‘seasonal compensation effects’ from density-dependence, leading to exacerbated population declines.

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