Data from: No phenotypic plasticity in nest-site selection in response to extreme flooding events

  • Liam D Bailey (Creator)
  • B.J. Ens (Sovon Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology, PO Box 6521, 6503 GA Nijmegen, The Netherlands.) (Creator)
  • Christiaan Both (Creator)
  • Dik Heg (Clinical Trials Unit, Department of Clinical Research, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.) (Creator)
  • Kees Oosterbeek (Creator)
  • Martijn van de Pol (Division of Ecology and Evolution, Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.) (Creator)



Phenotypic plasticity is a crucial mechanism for responding to changes in climatic means, yet we know little about its role in responding to extreme climatic events (ECEs). ECEs may lack the reliable cues necessary for phenotypic plasticity to evolve; however, this has not been empirically tested. We investigated whether behavioural plasticity in nest-site selection allows a long-lived shorebird (Haematopus ostralegus) to respond to flooding. We collected longitudinal nest elevation data on individuals over two decades, during which time flooding events have become increasingly frequent. We found no evidence that individuals learn from flooding experiences, showing nest elevation change consistent with random nest-site selection. There was also no evidence of phenotypic plasticity in response to potential environmental cues (lunar nodal cycle and water height). A small number of individuals, those nesting near an artificial sea wall, did show an increase in nest elevation over time; however, there is no conclusive evidence this occurred in response to ECEs. Our study population showed no behavioural plasticity in response to changing ECE patterns. More research is needed to determine whether this pattern is consistent across species and types of ECEs. If so, ECEs may pose a major challenge to the resilience of wild populations.
Datum van beschikbaarheid18-mei-2017
UitgeverUniversity of Groningen
Geografische dekkingSchiermonnikoog, The Netherlands

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