Strong survival selection on seasonal migration versus residence induced by extreme climatic events

Paul Acker* (Corresponding Author), Francis Daunt, Sarah Wanless, Sarah J Burthe, Mark A Newell, Michael P. Harris, Hannah Grist, Jenny Sturgeon, Robert L. Swann, Carrie Gunn, Ana Payo-Payo, Jane M Reid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


1.Elucidating the full eco-evolutionary consequences of climate change requires quantifying the impact of extreme climatic events (ECEs) on selective landscapes of key phenotypic traits that mediate responses to changing environments. Episodes of strong ECE-induced selection could directly alter population composition, and potentially drive micro-evolution. However, to date, few studies have quantified ECE-induced selection on key traits, meaning that
immediate and longer-term eco-evolutionary implications cannot yet be considered.
2.One widely-expressed trait that allows individuals to respond to changing seasonal environments, and directly shapes spatio-seasonal population dynamics, is seasonal migration
versus residence. Many populations show considerable among-individual phenotypic variation, resulting in ‘partial migration’. However, variation in the magnitude of direct survival selection on migration versus residence has not been rigorously quantified, and empirical evidence of whether seasonal ECEs induce, intensify, weaken or reverse such
selection is lacking.
3. We designed full-annual-cycle multi-state capture-recapture models that allow estimation of seasonal survival probabilities of migrants and residents from spatio-temporally heterogeneous individual resightings. We fitted these models to nine years of geographically extensive year-round resighting data from partially migratory European shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis). We thereby quantified seasonal and annual survival selection on migration versus residence across benign and historically extreme non-breeding season (winter) conditions, and tested whether selection differed between females and males.
4. We show that two of four observed ECEs, defined as severe winter storms causing overall low survival, were associated with very strong seasonal survival selection against residence. These episodes dwarfed the weak selection or neutrality evident otherwise, and hence caused selection through overall annual survival. The ECE that caused highest overall mortality and strongest selection also caused sex-biased mortality, but there was little overall evidence of sex-biased selection on migration versus residence.
5. Our results imply that seasonal ECEs and associated mortality can substantially shape the landscape of survival selection on migration versus residence. Such ECE-induced phenotypic selection will directly alter migrant and resident frequencies, and thereby alter immediate spatio-seasonal population dynamics. Given underlying additive genetic variation, such ECEs could potentially cause micro-evolutionary changes in seasonal migration, and thereby cause complex eco-evolutionary population responses to changing seasonal environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)796-808
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Bayesian capture-recapture
  • eco-evolutionary dynamics
  • extreme climatic events
  • fluctuating selection
  • full annual cycle
  • partial migration
  • multi-state model
  • Seasonal movement
  • sex-biased selection
  • seasonal movement


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