Population growth in a wild bird is buffered against phenological mismatch. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Broad-scale environmental changes are altering patterns of natural selection in the wild, but few empirical studies have quantified the demographic cost of sustained directional selection in response to these changes. We tested whether population growth in a wild bird is negatively affected by climate change-induced phenological mismatch, using almost four decades of individual-level life-history data from a great tit population. In this population, warmer springs have generated a mismatch between the annual breeding time and the seasonal food peak, intensifying directional selection for earlier laying dates. Interannual variation in population mismatch has not, however, affected population growth. We demonstrated a mechanism contributing to this uncoupling, whereby fitness losses associated with mismatch are counteracted by fitness gains due to relaxed competition. These findings imply that natural populations may be able to tolerate considerable maladaptation driven by shifting climatic conditions without undergoing immediate declines.

publication date

  • April 26, 2013