Temperature synchronizes temporal variation in laying dates across European hole‐nesting passerines

Stefan J.G. Vriend, Vidar Grøtan, Marlène Gamelon, Frank Adriaensen, Markus P. Ahola, Elena Álvarez, Liam D. Bailey, Emilio Barba, Jean‐Charles Bouvier, Malcolm D. Burgess, Andrey Bushuev, Carlos Camacho, David Canal, Anne Charmantier, Ella F. Cole, Camillo Cusimano, Blandine F. Doligez, Szymon M. Drobniak, Anna Dubiec, Marcel EensTapio Eeva, Kjell Einar Erikstad, Peter N. Ferns, Anne E. Goodenough, Ian R. Hartley, Shelley A. Hinsley, Elena Ivankina, Rimvydas Juškaitis, Bart Kempenaers, Anvar B. Kerimov, John Atle Kålås, Claire Lavigne, Agu Leivits, Mark C. Mainwaring, Jesús Martínez‐Padilla, Erik Matthysen, Kees van Oers, Markku Orell, Rianne Pinxten, Tone Kristin Reiertsen, Seppo Rytkönen, Juan Carlos Senar, Ben C. Sheldon, Alberto Sorace, János Török, Emma Vatka, Marcel E. Visser, Bernt‐Erik Sæther

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Identifying the environmental drivers of variation in fitness-related traits is a central objective in ecology and evolutionary biology. Temporal fluctuations of these environmental drivers are often synchronized at large spatial scales. Yet, whether synchronous environmental conditions can generate spatial synchrony in fitness-related trait values (i.e., correlated temporal trait fluctuations across populations) is poorly understood. Using data from long-term monitored populations of blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus, n = 31), great tits (Parus major, n = 35), and pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca, n = 20) across Europe, we assessed the influence of two local climatic variables (mean temperature and mean precipitation in February–May) on spatial synchrony in three fitness-related traits: laying date, clutch size, and fledgling number. We found a high degree of spatial synchrony in laying date but a lower degree in clutch size and fledgling number for each species. Temperature strongly influenced spatial synchrony in laying date for resident blue tits and great tits but not for migratory pied flycatchers. This is a relevant finding in the context of environmental impacts on populations because spatial synchrony in fitness-related trait values among populations may influence fluctuations in vital rates or population abundances. If environmentally induced spatial synchrony in fitness-related traits increases the spatial synchrony in vital rates or population abundances, this will ultimately increase the risk of extinction for populations and species. Assessing how environmental conditions influence spatiotemporal variation in trait values improves our mechanistic understanding of environmental impacts on populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3908
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2022


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