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The role of migration and winter mortality in the life history of a temperate zone migrant the dark eyed junco junco hyemalis hyemalis as determined from demographic analyses of winter populations

Ketterson, E.D.; Nolan, V.Jr

Auk 99(2): 243-259

1982


ISSN/ISBN: 0004-8038
Accession: 006760165

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This study of migratory dark-eyed juncos (J. h. hyemalis) investigates differences in winter population structure and dynamics associated with north-south variation in wintering site and considers the relationships between these winter differences and population dynamics at other seasons. Banded juncos were captured and recaptured in several winters at 4 latitudes (42.degree.-33.5.degree.), and results were integrated with long-term United States Fish and Wildlife Service records of recoveries throughout the winter range. Populations wintering in the north experience higher winter mortality than populations wintering in the south. Sex and age do not affect the probability of overwinter survival; therefore, dominance may not affect that probability. Some individuals do and others do not return to the same wintering site year after year. Individuals that do not return tend to be those that have spent the 1st winter of life in the north, and these shift southward. Annual mortality of northern and southern winter populations probably is the same. This conclusion is based in part on a comparison of north-south annual return rates and on logic arising out of the geographical distribution of the sexes during winter. In juncos, because males tend to winter north of females, greater annual mortality of northern winter populations would be expected to skew the primary and secondary sex ratios in favor of males. No evidence of such skews has been detected. If annual mortality is the same, it is likely that southern populations suffer heavier mortality during their longer migrations and that these migration losses offset the advantage described above. In north temperate-zone breeding species that migrate southward into an extensive winter range, distance traveled probably is correlated closely and positively with mortality rate during migration and survival rate during winter. If these rates offset each other, annual survivorship among winter migratory populations (and among sedentary and migratory populations of partially migrant species) can be equal. It is unnecessary to postulate for different winter populations either unequal reproductive success (von Haartman's hypothesis) or unequal year-to-year survival rates that balance out over the long term (Lack's hypothesis). Migration can cause breeding populations to be redistributed in various ways in winter; e.g., they may mix randomly, or northern breeders may leapfrog southern breeders. Each variation in migration pattern would produce winter populations with predictable characteristics. The extent to which winter junco populations have these characteristics is discussed.

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