The interaction between reproductive cost and individual quality is mediated by oceanic conditions in a long-lived bird


  • Corresponding Editor: J. R. Sauer.


Environmental variability, costs of reproduction, and heterogeneity in individual quality are three important sources of the temporal and interindividual variations in vital rates of wild populations. Based on an 18-year monitoring of an endangered, recently described, long-lived seabird, Monteiro's Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma monteiroi), we designed multistate survival models to separate the effects of the reproductive cost (breeders vs. nonbreeders) and individual quality (successful vs. unsuccessful breeders) in relation to temporally variable demographic and oceanographic properties. The analysis revealed a gradient of individual quality from nonbreeders, to unsuccessful breeders, to successful breeders. The survival rates of unsuccessful breeders (0.90 ± 0.023, mean ± SE) tended to decrease in years of high average breeding success and were more sensitive to oceanographic variation than those of both (high-quality) successful breeders (0.97 ± 0.015) and (low-quality) nonbreeders (0.83 ± 0.028). Overall, our results indicate that reproductive costs act on individuals of intermediate quality and are mediated by environmental harshness.