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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Disentangling climatic and nest predator impact on reproductive output reveals adverse high-temperature effects regardless of helper number in an arid-region cooperative bird

D'Amelio, Pietro B.; Ferreira, Andre C.; Fortuna, Rita; Paquet, Matthieu; Silva, Liliana R.; Theron, Franck; Doutrelant, Claire; Covas, Rita


Climate exerts a major influence on reproductive processes, and an understanding of the mechanisms involved and which factors might mitigate adverse weather is fundamental under the ongoing climate change. Here, we study how weather and nest predation influence reproductive output in a social species, and examine whether larger group sizes can mitigate the adverse effects of these factors. We used a 7-year nest predator-exclusion experiment on an arid-region cooperatively breeding bird, the sociable weaver. We found that dry and, especially, hot weather were major drivers of nestling mortality through their influence on nest predation. However, when we experimentally excluded nest predators, these conditions were still strongly associated with nestling mortality. Group size was unimportant against nest predation and, although positively associated with reproductive success, it did not mitigate the effects of adverse weather. Hence, cooperative breeding might have a limited capacity to mitigate extreme weather effects.


climate; cooperative breeding; environmental variability; maximum temperature; nest predation; offspring mortality; rain; social mitigation

Published in

Ecology Letters
2021, Volume: 25, number: 1, pages: 151-162
Publisher: WILEY

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    SDG13 Climate action

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