Survival of Afro-Palaearctic passerine migrants in western Europe and the impacts of seasonal weather variables

Alison Johnston, Robert A. Robinson, Gabriel Gargallo, Romain Julliard, Henk van der Jeugd, Stephen R. Baillie

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Populations of migratory songbirds in western Europe show considerable variation in population trends between species and regions. The demographic and environmental causes of these large-scale patterns are poorly understood. Using data from Constant Effort mist-netting studies, we investigated relationships between changes in abundance, adult survival and seasonal weather conditions among 35 western European populations of eight species of migratory warblers (Sylviidae). We used cross-species and within-species comparisons to assess whether annual variation in survival was correlated with weather conditions during passage or winter. We estimated survival using CJS mark-recapture models accounting for variation in the proportion of transient individuals and recapture rates. Species wintering in the humid bioclimatic zone of western Africa had significantly higher annual survival probabilities than species wintering in the arid bioclimatic zone of Africa (the Sahel). Rainfall in the Sahel was positively correlated with survival in at least some populations of five species. We found substantially fewer significant relationships with indices of weather during the autumn and spring passage periods, which may be due to the use of broad-scale indices. Annual population changes were correlated with adult survival in all of our study species, although species undergoing widespread declines showed the weakest relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-480
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • capture mark-recapture
  • climate change
  • Constant Effort Sites
  • demography
  • Sahel rainfall
  • Sylviidae
  • international


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