Life-history innovation to climate change: Can single-brooded migrant birds become multiple breeders?

Christiaan Both*, Richard Ubels, Pierre-Alain Ravussin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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When climatic conditions change and become outside the range experienced in the past, species may show life-history innovations allowing them to adapt in new ways. We report such an innovation for pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca. Decades of breeding biological studies on pied flycatchers have rarely reported multiple breeding in this long-distance migrant. In two populations, we found 12 recent incidents of females with second broods, all produced by extremely early laying females in warm springs. As such early first broods are a recent phenomenon, because laying dates have gradually advanced over time, this innovation now allows individual females to enhance their reproductive success considerably. If laying dates continue advancing, potentially more females may become multiple breeders and selection for early (and multiple) breeding phenotypes increases, which may accelerate adaptation to climatic change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number01951
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May-2019


  • climate change
  • life history
  • multiple breeding
  • MOLT

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