Polar Seabirds with Long-term Pair Bonds: Effects of Mating on Individual Fitness and Population Dynamics
The goal of this project is to understand the drivers of pair disruption and quantify its resulting effects on individual fitness components and population growth rate and structure for two procellariiformes breeding in the Southern Ocean: the wandering albatross and the snow petrel, which both form long-lasting pair bonds. The mechanisms of pair disruption may be contrasted between these species, as pair disruption in wandering albatross may occur with the death of a partner by incidental by-catch in fisheries, while in snow petrels it may occur through divorce and climate-related conditions. Unique long-term individual mark-recapture data sets exist for these iconic polar species, allowing for a comprehensive study of the rates, causes and consequences of pair disruption and how they differ among species. This study will result in the most detailed analysis to date of the impact of social monogamy and long-term pair bonds on individual fitness components (vital rates: survival, recruitment and fecundity; life-history outcomes: life expectancy, age at 1st breeding and lifetime reproductive success; and occupancy times: duration of pair bond or widowhood) and population growth and structure (e.g, sex ratio of individuals available for mating). Specifically, the investigators will assess: 1. Variations in pair disruption rates, and if they are related to global change (by-catch in the case of albatross widowing, and climate in the case of petrel divorce) by developing a state-of-the-art statistical multievent mark-recapture model. 2. Impacts of pair disruption on vital rates, specifically whether i) greater familiarity and better coordination within pairs improves breeding performance and survival, ii) mating costs reduce the probability of breeding and iii) divorce is more likely to occur after a breeding failure. 3. Impacts of pair disruption on life-history outcomes and occupancy times using Markov chain stochastic life cycle models. 4. Impacts of pair disruption on population dynamics by developing a novel non-linear two-sex matrix population model. The investigators will develop novel sensitivity and Life Table Response Experiment analyses to examine the respective effects of fisheries, climate, vital rates, and pair-disruption rates on life-history outcomes, occupancy times, and population growth and structure, and their variations among year and species.
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