Date of this Version
The Auk 116(4):1001-1008, 1999
Breeding-season productivity (the per capita number of offspring surviving to the end of the breeding season) is seldom estimated for multibrooded songbirds because of cost and logistical constraints. However, this parameter is critical for predictions of population growth rates and comparisons of seasonal productivity across geographic or temporal scales. We constructed a dynamic, stochastic, individual-based model of breeding-season productivity using demographic data from Wood Thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina) in central Georgia from 1993 to 1996. The model predicts breeding-season productivity as a function of adult survival, juvenile survival, nesting success, season length, rene sting interval, and juvenile-care intervals. The model predicted that seasonal fecundity (number of fledglings produced) was 3.04, but only 2.04 juveniles per female survived to the end of the breeding season. Sensitivity analyses showed that differences in rene sting interval, nesting success, fledglings per successful nest, and adult and juvenile survival caused variation in breeding-season productivity. Contrary to commonly held notions, season length and fledgling- care interval length did not cause variation in breeding-season productivity. This modeling exercise emphasizes the need for demographic data for songbird species, and we encourage biologists to use similar models to evaluate productivity in songbird populations.