High temperatures and low rainfall consistently constrain reproduction in arid-zone bird species. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this pattern is critical for predicting how climate change will influence population persistence and to inform conservation and management. In this study, we analysed Southern Pied Babbler Turdoides bicolor nestling survival, daily growth rate and adult investment behaviour during the nestling period over three austral summer breeding seasons. High temperatures were associated with lower body mass, shorter tarsi, and reduced daily growth rates of nestlings. Our piecewise structural equation models suggested that direct impacts of temperature had the strongest influence on nestling size and daily growth rates for both 5-day-old and 11-day-old nestlings, followed by temperature-related adjustments to provisioning rates by adults. Rainfall and group size influenced the behaviour of provisioning adults but did not influence nestling growth or survival. Adjustments to adult provisioning strategies did not compensate for direct negative effects of high air temperatures on nestling size or daily growth rates. Detailed mechanistic data like these allow us to model the pathways by which high temperature causes nest failure. In turn, this could allow us to design targeted conservation action to effectively mitigate climate effects.
|Date made available||1 Jan 2021|