The impact of social structure on breeding strategies in an island bird

Grant C. McDonald, Noémie Engel, Sara S. Ratão, Tamás Székely, András Kosztolányi

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7 Citations (SciVal)


The social environment is a key factor determining fitness by influencing multiple stages of reproduction, including pair formation, mating behavior and parenting. However, the influence of social structure across different aspects of breeding is rarely examined simultaneously in wild populations. We therefore lack a consolidation of the mechanisms by which sociality impacts reproduction. Here we investigate the implications of the social environment before and during breeding on multiple stages of reproduction in an island population of the ground nesting shorebird, the Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus). We utilise information on mating decisions, nest locations and nesting success across multiple years in combination with social network analysis. Sociality before breeding was connected with patterns of pair formation. In addition, site fidelity and personal breeding experience was associated with the spatial organisation of breeding pairs. Our results provide evidence that, while differential social interactions at localised scales influence patterns of reproductive pairing, site fidelity and personal breeding experience influence the structure of populations at the landscape scale. Our results underline the tight link between the social structure of populations and patterns of mating, while revealing that the relative influence of sociality, breeding experience and local ecology are dynamic across different facets of reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13872
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date17 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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