Reproductive performance of resident and migrant males, females and pairs in a partially migratory bird

Hannah Grist, Francis Daunt*, Sarah Wanless, Sarah J. Burthe, Mark A. Newell, Mike P. Harris, Jane M. Reid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Quantifying among-individual variation in life-history strategies, and associated variation in reproductive performance and resulting demographic structure, is key to understanding and predicting population dynamics and life-history evolution. Partial migration, where populations comprise a mixture of resident and seasonally migrant individuals, constitutes a dimension of life-history variation that could be associated with substantial variation in reproductive performance. However, such variation has rarely been quantified due to the challenge of measuring reproduction and migration across a sufficient number of seasonally mobile males and females. We used intensive winter (non-breeding season) resightings of colour-ringed adult European shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) from a known breeding colony to identify resident and migrant individuals. We tested whether two aspects of annual reproductive performance, brood hatch date and breeding success, differed between resident and migrant males, females and breeding pairs observed across three consecutive winters and breeding seasons. The sex ratios of observed resident and migrant shags did not significantly differ from each other or from 1:1, suggesting that both sexes are partially migratory and that migration was not sex-biased across surveyed areas. Individual resident males and females hatched their broods 6 days earlier and fledged 0.2 more chicks per year than migrant males and females on average. Resident individuals of both sexes therefore had higher breeding success than migrants. Hatch date and breeding success also varied with a pair's joint migratory strategy such that resident–resident pairs hatched their broods 12 days earlier than migrant–migrant pairs, and fledged 0.7 more chicks per year on average. However, there was no evidence of assortative pairing with respect to migratory strategy: observed frequencies of migrant–migrant and resident–resident pairs did not differ from those expected given random pairing. These data demonstrate substantial variation in two key aspects of reproductive performance associated with the migratory strategies of males, females and breeding pairs within a partially migratory population. These patterns could reflect direct and/or indirect mechanisms, but imply that individual variation in migratory strategy and variation in pairing among residents and migrants could influence selection on migration and drive complex population and evolutionary dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1010-1021
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPrint publication - Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • carry-over effects
  • demography
  • European shag
  • fitness
  • phenology
  • population structure
  • seabird


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