|Nest initiation and flooding in response to season and semi-lunar spring tides in a ground-nesting shorebird
Plaschke, S.; Bulla, M.; Cruz-López, M.; Gómez del Ángel, S.; Küpper, C. (2019). Nest initiation and flooding in response to season and semi-lunar spring tides in a ground-nesting shorebird. Front. Zool. 16(1): 11. https://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12983-019-0313-1
In: Frontiers in Zoology. BioMed Central: London. ISSN 1742-9994; e-ISSN 1742-9994, meer
Charadrius nivosus; Nest flooding; Ground-nesting shorebirds; Nest initiation schedule; Semi-lunar cycle; Snowy plover; Spring tide rhythm
- Plaschke, S.
- Bulla, M., meer
- Cruz-López, M.
- Gómez del Ángel, S.
- Küpper, C.
BackgroundMarine and intertidal organisms face the rhythmic environmental changes induced by tides. The large amplitude of spring tides that occur around full and new moon may threaten nests of ground-nesting birds. These birds face a trade-off between ensuring nest safety from tidal flooding and nesting near the waterline to provide their newly hatched offspring with suitable foraging opportunities. The semi-lunar periodicity of spring tides may enable birds to schedule nest initiation adaptively, for example, by initiating nests around tidal peaks when the water line reaches the farthest into the intertidal habitat. We examined the impact of semi-lunar tidal changes on the phenology of nest flooding and nest initiation in Snowy Plovers (Charadrius nivosus) breeding at Bahía de Ceuta, a coastal wetland in Northwest Mexico.ResultsUsing nest initiations and fates of 752 nests monitored over ten years we found that the laying season coincides with the lowest spring tides of the year and only 6% of all nests were flooded by tides. Tidal nest flooding varied substantially over time. First, flooding was the primary cause of nest failures in two of the ten seasons indicating high between-season stochasticity. Second, nests were flooded almost exclusively during the second half of the laying season. Third, nest flooding was associated with the semi-lunar spring tide cycle as nests initiated around spring tide had a lower risk of being flooded than nests initiated at other times. Following the spring tide rhythm, plovers appeared to adapt to this risk of flooding with nest initiation rates highest around spring tides and lowest around neap tides.ConclusionsSnowy Plovers appear generally well adapted to the risk of nest flooding by spring tides. Our results are in line with other studies showing that intertidal organisms have evolved adaptive responses to predictable rhythmic tidal changes but these adaptations do not prevent occasional catastrophic losses caused by stochastic events.