ABS 2022
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Identifying climate windows that influence breeding phenology and success in a resident songbird
Lauren Whitenack1, Joseph Welkin1, Carrie Branch2, Dovid Kozlovsky3, Angela Pitera1, Benjamin Sonnenberg1, Virginia Heinen1, Vladimir Pravosudov1. 1University of Nevada, Reno, NV, United States; 2Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, United States; 3Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, United States

Identifying how large-scale climate factors influence the onset of major life history events is a pressing issue in modern ecology. Animals rely on environmental cues and assess local conditions in order to match breeding phenology with optimal conditions for reproductive success. Individuals residing in different environments experience diverse and often stochastic conditions leading to observed within-species variation in breeding timing and success. Mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli) are resident songbirds that breed in montane regions where climatic swings result in unpredictable years of drought and years with deep snow, which can have varied impacts across elevations. Using nine years of data from our long-term mountain chickadee study site in the Sierra Nevada, USA, we identified the climate variables that influence breeding phenology and success at high and low elevations. Because climate variables such as temperature may have the greatest impact on these traits during a particular time of year, we used a sliding window analysis to identify the most important windows of time for each climate variable.