Effects of extreme weather on reproductive success in a temperate-breeding songbird

Ivett Pipoly, Veronika Bókony, Gábor Seress, Krisztián Szabó, András Liker

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25 Citations (Scopus)


The frequency of extreme meteorological events such as heat waves and rainstorms is predicted to increase with climate change. However, there is still little information about how extreme weather influences reproduction in animals. It may not only affect breeding success but might also alter offspring sex ratio if males and females are differentially sensitive to meteorological conditions during development. We investigated the relationship between meteorological conditions and reproductive success over 6 years in a house sparrow population in central Europe. We found that hatching success increased with the number of extremely hot days (daily maximum >31°C) and decreased with the number of extremely cold days (<16°C) during incubation, although the latter effect held only for clutches with relatively short incubation periods. Fledging success was unrelated to weather variables. However, the frequency of extremely hot days had a negative effect on fledglings' body mass and tarsus length, although both of these traits were positively related to average temperature. Additionally, fledglings' body mass increased with the length of period without rainfall before fledging. Male to female ratio among fledglings did not differ from 1:1 and did not vary with weather variables. The magnitude of the effects of extreme meteorological events was usually small, although in some cases comparable to those of ecologically relevant predictors of reproductive success. Our results indicate that meteorological conditions have complex effects on breeding success, as the effects of extreme weather can differ between different aspects of reproduction and also from the effects of overall meteorological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere80033
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 5 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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