University of Oulu

Tolvanen, J., Morosinotto, C., Forsman, J.T. et al. Information collected during the post-breeding season guides future breeding decisions in a migratory bird. Oecologia 192, 965–977 (2020).

Information collected during the post-breeding season guides future breeding decisions in a migratory bird

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Author: Tolvanen, Jere1,2; Morosinotto, Chiara3,4; Forsman, Jukka T.1,2;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2National Resources Institute Finland, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
3Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, 20014, Turku, Finland
4Bioeconomy Research Team, Novia University of Applied Sciences, Raseborgsvägen 9, 10600, Ekenäs, Finland
5FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-04-22


Breeding habitat choice and investment decisions are key contributors to fitness in animals. Density of individuals is a well-known cue of habitat quality used for future breeding decisions, but accuracy of density cues decreases as individuals disperse from breeding sites. Used nests remain an available information source also after breeding season, but whether such information is used for breeding decisions is less well known. We experimentally investigated whether migratory, cavity-nesting pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) prospect potential breeding sites after breeding season and use old nests as a cue for future breeding decisions. In late summer 2013, forest sites were assigned to four treatments: (1) sites including nest boxes with old nests of heterospecifics (tits), (2) sites including suitable but empty nest boxes, (3) sites with unsuitable nest boxes, or (4) sites without any nest boxes. In the following year, we investigated pied flycatcher habitat choice and reproductive investment according to these “past” cues while also controlling for additional information sources present during settlement. Flycatchers preferred sites where tits had been perceived to breed in the previous year, but only if great tits were also currently breeding in the site and had a relatively high number of eggs. Old flycatchers avoided sites previously treated with suitable but empty cavities, whereas young flycatchers preferred sites where tits had apparently bred in the previous year. Also egg mass, but not clutch size or clutch mass, was affected by the combination of past treatment information and current tit abundance.

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Series: Oecologia
ISSN: 0029-8549
ISSN-E: 1432-1939
ISSN-L: 0029-8549
Volume: 192
Pages: 965 - 977
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-020-04629-5
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. This study was supported by Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica (to JT), Academy of Finland (Grant nos. 12265 and 125720 to JTF, 138049 to RLT), Kone Foundation (to JTF), and the University of Turku Collegium for Science and Medicine (to RLT).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 125720
Detailed Information: 125720 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
122665 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
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