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Geographic variation and environmental correlates of apparent survival rates in adult tree swallows Tachycineta bicolor

Clark, Robert G., Winkler, David W., Dawson, Russell D., Shutler, Dave, Hussell, David J. T., Lombardo, Michael P., Thorpe, Patrick A., Dunn, Peter O., Whittingham, Linda A.
Journal of avian biology 2018 v.49 no.6 pp. ejav-012514
North Atlantic Oscillation, Tachycineta bicolor, adults, breeding, environmental factors, females, geographical variation, males, migratory species, models, overwintering, philopatry, population dynamics, reproductive success, songbirds, spring, survival rate, wild animals, winter, North America
Determining demographic rates in wild animal populations and understanding why rates vary are important challenges in population ecology and conservation. Whereas reproductive success is reported frequently for many songbird species, there are relatively few corresponding estimates of annual survival for widespread populations of the same migratory species. We incorporated mark–recapture data into Cormack–Jolly–Seber models to estimate annual apparent survival and recapture rates of adult male and female tree swallows Tachycineta bicolor in eight local breeding populations across North America for periods of 7–33 yr. We found strong site‐specific and annual variation in apparent survival rates of adult swallows, and evidence of higher survival or site fidelity among males than females. There were no strong associations between putative overwintering region and survival. Strength and patterns of winter climate‐apparent survival relationships varied across four sites monitored for >15 yr; at one site, spring pond conditions, local spring precipitation and, to a lesser extent, winter North Atlantic Oscillation Index were credible predictors of annual apparent survival. Further work is needed to evaluate how survival is related to environmental conditions throughout the annual cycle and how these factors affect population dynamics of swallows and related species of conservation concern.