Why did Lapwings Vanellus vanellus in managed habitat advance egg laying during a period without warming early springs?

Obe H. Brandsma, Rosemarie Kentie, Theunis Piersma

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4 Citations (Scopus)


From 1950, spring temperatures in The Netherlands increased. Previous
research suggested that advances in first egg dates of Lapwings Vanellus
best correlate with climatic factors rather than with changes in farming
practices. In an area constantly and uniformly managed especially for breeding
meadow birds (the reserve Giethoorn-Wanneperveen), nesting phenology of
Lapwings was monitored over almost three decades (1988–2014). During this
period local average air temperatures across early spring (1 February – 31
March) showed no change. Although first laying dates of the initial clutches
(varying between 7 and 30 March) did not change either, the median laying date
of the first egg of all the clutches (varying between 21 March and 8 April)
advanced by ten days (from 4 April to 25 March). Interestingly, laying dates were
associated with temperatures, in that egg laying usually followed an increase in
temperature in the previous weeks. As a consequence, whereas first laying
dates of initial clutches correlated with temperatures in the 21 February – 31
March interval, they did not with temperatures in the previous 1–20 February
interval. Likewise, median laying dates of the first egg of all the clutches did not
correlate with the temperatures in February and early March, but the two variables
were strongly correlated in the overlapping 11 March – 10 April interval.
We found no associations with precipitation. That median laying dates (but not
first laying dates) advanced without changes in the overall average spring
temperature nor in habitat management, can only partly be explained by the
finding that hatching success steadily increased during the study (note that the
more frequent replacement clutches would have delayed the measured median
laying date in the earlier years). As hatching success of earlier clutches is higher
than that of later clutches, there may now be selection for earlier laying.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1-Jun-2017

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