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Wie man reproduktive Seneszenz bei weiblichen Habichten (Accipiter gentilis) in Schleswig-Holstein (nicht) nachweisen kann - Kommentar zu Risch, Looft & Ziesemer (2004)



Wie man reproduktive Seneszenz bei weiblichen Habichten (Accipiter gentilis) in Schleswig-Holstein (nicht) nachweisen kann - Kommentar zu Risch, Looft & Ziesemer (2004)



Corax i; 20(3): 277-279



Senescence, defined as an age-related drop of survival and fertility, is hard to demonstrate in vertebrates in the wild, particularly in birds. Due to the low number of specimens surviving to relevant ages, sample sizes of a magnitude rarely available in population studies are necessary. In a recent article about age-related reproduction of female Northern Goshawks, Risen et al. (Corax 19, 2004) present an impressive sample of 919 broods from Schleswig-Holstein. By means of curvilinear regression models, they show that brood size varies with age and laying date, but correlates more closely with the latter. Laying date is thus identified as the key determinant of brood size, rather than age. Regarding senescence, the authors remain vague, although they suggest lower brood size in birds older than 10 years. Their inference is misleading mainly because of ineffective statistical methods and considering laying date, in fact an age-dependent physiological property, as an independent predictor variable. A straightforward summary of the data shows that mean brood size is remarkably stable from 4 until over 10 years of age, providing no evidence of senescence.

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