• Testing four hypotheses to explain partial migration: balancing reproductive benefits with limits to fasting endurance

      Lundblad, Carl G.; Conway, Courtney J.; Univ Arizona, Arizona Cooperat Fish & Wildlife Res Unit, Sch Nat Resources & Environm (SPRINGER, 2020-01-27)
      Seasonal migration is ubiquitous in animals, and yet its underlying cause(s) remain poorly known. Species exhibiting short-distance altitudinal migration and intraspecific variation in migratory behavior (partial or differential migration) are ideal study systems for examining the selective pressures that affect individual migratory decisions. We used an individually marked population of yellow-eyed juncos, breeding along a 1000-m elevational gradient and migrating up and down that gradient, to examine the morphological, behavioral, and reproductive traits associated with migratory behavior. We tested the four most well-known hypotheses proposed to explain partial migration: the thermal tolerance, fasting endurance, dominance, and arrival time hypotheses. Our results indicate that: (1) limits to juncos' fasting endurance constrain their ability to overwinter at high elevations, in support of the fasting endurance hypothesis, (2) differences in body size mediate fasting ability and are associated with variation in migratory behavior and overwinter apparent survival, (3) migratory behavior interacts with reproductive success, in partial support of the arrival time hypothesis, and (4) additional mechanisms that are not captured by the four well-known hypotheses might better explain individual variation in migratory behavior. Less migratory females achieved greater nesting success the following breeding season. Among males, nesting success influenced migratory tendency the following winter. Successful males may either migrate to a more benign winter climate without paying reproductive costs, or high levels of parental effort might physiologically constrain their ability to overwinter in harsh climates.