Hot droughts compromise interannual survival across all group sizes in a cooperatively breeding bird.

No Thumbnail Available
Change log
Cunningham, Susan J 
Spottiswoode, Claire N 
Ridley, Amanda R 

Climate change is affecting animal populations around the world and one relatively unexplored aspect of species vulnerability is whether and to what extent responses to environmental stressors might be mitigated by variation in group size in social species. We used a 15-year data set for a cooperatively breeding bird, the southern pied babbler Turdoides bicolor, to determine the impact of temperature, rainfall and group size on body mass change and interannual survival in both juveniles and adults. Hot and dry conditions were associated with reduced juvenile growth, mass loss in adults and compromised survival between years in both juveniles (86% reduction in interannual survival) and adults (60% reduction in interannual survival). Individuals across all group sizes experienced similar effects of climatic conditions. Larger group sizes may not buffer individual group members against the impacts of hot and dry conditions, which are expected to increase in frequency and severity in future.

Climate change, Sociality, cooperative breeding, group size, hot drought, southern pied babbler, unpredictable environments, Animals, Breeding, Climate Change, Droughts, Humans, Passeriformes
Journal Title
Ecol Lett
Conference Name
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
All rights reserved
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/J014109/1)
European Research Council (294494)
DST-NRF Centre of Excellence at the FitzPatrick Institute for African Ornithology, the University of Cape Town, the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (Grant No. 20747/01 to ARB) British Ornithologists’ Union Australian Research Council (Grant No. FT110100188 to ARR) BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship (BB/J014109/1 to CNS) National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant No. 110506 to SJC).