Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

The starvation-predation risk trade-off, body mass and population status in the Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

R Macleod, J Clark, Will Cresswell

School/Research organisations

Abstract

It is theoretically and empirically well established that body mass variation in small birds reflects a trade-off between starvation risk and predation risk. This occurs because carrying increased fat reserves reduces starvation risk but also results in a higher predation risk due to reduced escape flight performance and/or the increased foraging exposure needed to maintain a higher body mass. In principle, therefore, the theory of mass-dependent predation risk could be used to understand how a bird perceives and responds to the risks in its environment, because its mass will reflect the predictability of foraging opportunities and predation risk. Mass in birds may then provide a relatively straightforward way of assessing the foraging environment of birds and so the potential conservation problems a species faces. This study tests, for the first time for any species, how body mass changes in response to changing starvation risk, changing predation risk and changing population status. Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris mass varies as predicted by starvation-predation risk trade-off theory: mass is lower when foraging conditions are more favourable and when predation risk is increased. The populations that are declining the most strongly have higher mass, which is most likely indicative of a poor foraging environment, leading to lower relative survival. The results suggest that increased mass in Starlings, and possibly in other species, may provide an indication of the poor quality of the foraging environment and/or rapidly declining populations.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-208
Number of pages10
JournalIbis
Volume150 S1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008

    Research areas

  • conservation, fat, foraging, survival, BLACKBIRDS TURDUS-MERULA, TIT FAT RESERVES, DEPENDENT PREDATION, PARUS-MAJOR, WINTERING BIRDS, DYNAMIC-MODEL, MORTALITY, STORAGE, DETERMINANTS, SPARROWHAWKS

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Weak breeding seasonality of a songbird in a seasonally arid tropical environment arises from individual flexibility and strongly seasonal moult

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I. & Cresswell, W., Jul 2019, In : Ibis. 161, 3, p. 533-545 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Seasonal differences in baseline innate immune function are better explained by environment than annual cycle stage in a year-round breeding tropical songbird

    Nwaogu, C. J., Cresswell, W., Versteegh, M. A. & Tieleman, B. I., 8 Apr 2019, In : Journal of Animal Ecology. 88, 4, p. 537-553 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Spring migration strategies of Whinchat Saxicola rubetra when successfully crossing potential barriers of the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Risely, A., Izang, A., Ivande, S., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W., Jan 2019, In : Ibis. 161, 1, p. 131-146

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Temperature and aridity determine body size conformity to Bergmann’s rule independent of latitudinal differences in a tropical environment

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I., Bitrus, K. & Cresswell, W. R. L., Oct 2018, In : Journal of Ornithology. 159, 4, p. 1053–1062 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Ibis (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)
    17 Jun 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Ibis (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)
    27 Mar 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Ibis (Journal)

    Christian Rutz (Editor)
    20122016

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Ibis (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Editor)
    20052006

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Spring migration strategies of Whinchat Saxicola rubetra when successfully crossing potential barriers of the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Risely, A., Izang, A., Ivande, S., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W., Jan 2019, In : Ibis. 161, 1, p. 131-146

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Weak breeding seasonality of a songbird in a seasonally arid tropical environment arises from individual flexibility and strongly seasonal moult

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I. & Cresswell, W., Jul 2019, In : Ibis. 161, 3, p. 533-545 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Wild fledgling tits do not mob in response to conspecific or heterospecific mobbing calls

    Carlson, N. V., Healy, S. D. & Templeton, C. N., 26 Jun 2019, In : Ibis. Early View, 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Control of invasive predators improves breeding success of an endangered alpine passerine

    Weston, K. A., O'Donnell, C. F. J., Van Dam-Bates, P. & Monks, J. M., Oct 2018, In : Ibis. 160, 4, p. 892-899

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Low and annually variable migratory connectivity in a long distance migrant: Whinchats Saxicola rubetra may show a bet-hedging strategy

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Risely, A., Izang, A., Ivande, S., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W., Oct 2017, In : Ibis. 159, 4, p. 902-918

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 411172

Top