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Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Aug 22;273(1597):2009-16.

Short- and long-term population dynamical consequences of asymmetric climate change in black grouse.

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Department of Biological & Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, PO Box 35, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland.


Temporal asymmetry in patterns of regional climate change may jeopardize the match between the proximate and ultimate cues of the timing of breeding. The consequences on short- and long-term population dynamics and trends as well as the underlying mechanisms are, however, often unknown. Using long-term data from Finland, we demonstrate that black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) have responded to spring warming by advancing both egg-laying and hatching. However, early summer (the time of hatching) has not advanced, and chicks have to face colder post-hatching conditions. Demonstrating that these conditions are critical to post-hatching survival, we show that chicks are increasingly suffering higher mortality because they hatch too early. Consequently, breeding success and population size has severely declined over the past four decades. Finally, we modelled the impact of this particular climate change scenario on population dynamics and show that the mismatch can further explain the observed collapse of cyclic fluctuations. Because the evolutionary response of grouse is lagging behind the novel selective pressures, seasonally asymmetric climate change is likely to constitute an important determinant of future short- and long-term changes in the dynamics of black grouse populations.

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