Why time-limited individuals can make populations more vulnerable to disturbance

van der Kolk, Henk-Jan, Ens, Bruno J., Frauendorf, Magali, Jongejans, Eelke, Oosterbeek, Kees, Bouten, Willem, and van de Pol, Martijn (2021) Why time-limited individuals can make populations more vulnerable to disturbance. Oikos, 130 (4). pp. 637-651.

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Abstract

Individual variation in disturbance vulnerability (i.e. the likelihood that disturbance negatively affects an individual's fitness) can affect how disturbance impacts animal populations, as even at low disturbance levels some individuals could be severely affected and die. Individual variation in vulnerability can arise due to different responses to disturbance. We propose a new hypothesis that even when individuals respond similarly to disturbance, time-limited individuals are more at risk that their condition deteriorates since they have limited ability to extend their foraging time to compensate for disturbance. We investigate this 'time-limitation hypothesis' both empirically and mathematically by studying how individuals that differ in their average foraging time (presumably due to differences in foraging efficiency) are affected by disturbance. We used tracking data of 22 wintering Eurasian oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus to compare time budgets between disturbed and undisturbed tidal periods. In three tidal periods with severe disturbance by transport airplanes, more than a third of the variation in additional flight time and foraging time loss was explained by individual differences. Inefficient individuals that foraged longer in undisturbed tidal periods experienced higher costs in disturbed tidal periods, since they lost more foraging time. We next used an analytical energy balance model to study how time-limited individuals differed in their maximum disturbance thresholds. Both our theoretical model and empirical study suggest that inefficient individuals in a time-limited environment may be unable to increase their foraging time to compensate for the effects of disturbance. Consequently, the magnitude of individual variation in time budgets strongly determines what proportion of the population is at risk that their condition deteriorates due to disturbance. Our hypothesis implies that, when assessing disturbance effects on a population, it is not only important to consider individual variation in disturbance responses, but also variation in time budgets that determine the consequences of disturbance.

Item ID: 69617
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1600-0706
Keywords: disturbance, foraging time, individual variation, population, recreation ecology, shorebirds
Copyright Information: © 2021 The Authors. Oikos published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2021 02:03
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310307 Population ecology @ 50%
49 MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES > 4901 Applied mathematics > 490102 Biological mathematics @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180203 Coastal or estuarine biodiversity @ 100%
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