Mismatch-induced growth reductions in a clade of Arctic-breeding shorebirds are rarely mitigated by increasing temperatures

Thomas Lameris*, Pavel S. Tomkovich, James A Johnson, R. I. Guy Morrison, Ingrid Tulp, Simeon Lisovski, Lucas DeCicco, Maksim Dementyev, Robert E. Gill Jr., Job ten Horn, Theunis Piersma, Zachary Pohlen, Hans Schekkerman, Mikhail Y. Soloviev, Evgeny E. Syroechkovsky, Mikhail K. Zhemchuzhnikov, Jan A. van Gils

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In seasonal environments subject to climate change, organisms typically show phenological changes. As these changes are usually stronger in organisms at lower trophic levels than those at higher trophic levels, mismatches between consumers and their prey may occur during the consumers’ reproduction period. While in some species a trophic mismatch induces reductions in offspring growth, this is not always the case. This variation may be caused by the relative strength of the mismatch, or by mitigating factors like increased temperature-reducing energetic costs. We investigated the response of chick growth rate to arthropod abundance and temperature for six populations of ecologically similar shorebirds breeding in the Arctic and sub-Arctic (four subspecies of Red Knot Calidris canutus, Great Knot C. tenuirostris and Surfbird C. virgata). In general, chicks experienced growth benefits (measured as a condition index) when hatching before the seasonal peak in arthropod abundance, and growth reductions when hatching after the peak. The moment in the season at which growth reductions occurred varied between populations, likely depending on whether food was limiting growth before or after the peak. Higher temperatures led to faster growth on average, but could only compensate for increasing trophic mismatch for the population experiencing the coldest conditions. We did not find changes in the timing of peaks in arthropod availability across the study years, possibly because our series of observations was relatively short; timing of hatching displayed no change over the years either. Our results suggest that a trend in trophic mismatches may not yet be evident; however, we show Arctic-breeding shorebirds to be vulnerable to this phenomenon and vulnerability to depend on seasonal prey dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829–847
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2022

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