Winter mortality of a passerine bird increases following hotter summers and during winters with higher maximum temperatures

Lei Lv, Martijn van de Pol, Helen L. Osmond, Yang Liu, Andrew Cockburn, Loeske E.B. Kruuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Climate change may influence animal population dynamics through reproduction and mortality. However, attributing changes in mortality to specific climate variables is challenging because the exact time of death is usually unknown in the wild. Here, we investigated climate effects on adult mortality in Australian superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus). Over a 27-year period, mortality outside the breeding season nearly doubled. This nonbreeding season mortality increased with lower minimum (night-time) and higher maximum (day-time) winter temperatures and with higher summer heat wave intensity. Fine-scale analysis showed that higher mortality in a given week was associated with higher maxima 2 weeks prior and lower minima in the current fortnight, indicating costs of temperature drops. Increases in summer heat waves and in winter maximum temperatures collectively explained 62.6% of the increase in mortality over the study period. Our results suggest that warming climate in both summer and winter can adversely affect survival, with potentially substantial population consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabm0197
Number of pages14
JournalScience Advances
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2023

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