Demographic effects of extreme weather events: snow storms, breeding success, and population growth rate in a long‐lived Antarctic seabird
Weather extremes are one important element of ongoing climate change, but their impacts are poorly understood because they are, by definition, rare events. If the frequency and severity of extreme weather events increase, there is an urgent need to understand and predict the ecological consequences of such events. In this study, we aimed to quantify the effects of snow storms on nest survival in Antarctic petrels and assess whether snow storms are an important driver of annual breeding success and population growth rate. We used detailed data on daily individual nest survival in a year with frequent and heavy snow storms, and long term data on petrel productivity (i.e., number of chicks produced) at the colony level. Our results indicated that snow storms are an important determinant of nest survival and overall productivity. Snow storm events explained 30% of the daily nest survival within the 2011/2012 season and nearly 30% of the interannual variation in colony productivity in period 1985–2014. Snow storms are a key driver of Antarctic petrel breeding success, and potentially population dynamics. We also found state-dependent effects of snow storms and chicks in poor condition were more likely to die during a snow storm than chicks in good condition. This stresses the importance of considering interactions between individual heterogeneity and extreme weather events to understand both individual and population responses to climate change.
Figures & Tables