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Zoologia (Curitiba)

Print version ISSN 1984-4670On-line version ISSN 1984-4689


FRANCA, Leonardo Fernandes; FIGUEIREDO-PAIXAO, Victória Helen; DUARTE-SILVA, Thales Afonso  and  SANTOS, Kamila Barbosa dos. The effects of rainfall and arthropod abundance on breeding season of insectivorous birds, in a semi-arid neotropical environment. Zoologia (Curitiba) [online]. 2020, vol.37, e37716.  Epub Sep 07, 2020. ISSN 1984-4689.

Rainfall in tropical semi-arid areas may act as a reliable cue for timing bird reproduction, since it precedes future food supply. With this in mind, we set-up a study to test the reproductive response of insectivorous bird to arthropod abundance and rainfall patterns. Sampling occurred in a seasonally dry Neotropical forest, in north-eastern Brazil, between October, 2015 and October 2016, at 14-day intervals. We used brood patch to assess reproductive periodicity of insectivorous birds (eight species, 475 captures, 121 patch records). We sampled arthropods to quantify abundance, using biomass and number of individuals (1755 individuals, 15 Orders). Rainfall temporal distribution was analyzed using daily precipitation data. We used a cross-correlation function to test for correlation and time-lags between the covariates under study. Both the number of reproductively-active birds and arthropod abundance were higher in time periods close to the rainy season. Increase in arthropod biomass in the aerial stratum preceded the period of greatest rainfall by one (14 days, r = 0.44) to three sampling periods (0.47). In contrast, the highest proportion of individuals with brood patches occurred after the main rainfall peak, with the strongest relationship occurring after two (0.52) to four (0.50) time lags. Finally, the proportion of individuals with brood patches was positively correlated with aerial stratum arthropod biomass when five time lags were considered (0.55). Our results support the hypothesis of a temporal process involving rainfall, arthropods and reproduction of insectivorous birds in the wet/dry tropics. However, rainfall did not appear to act as a cue for the timing of reproduction, since records indicated higher arthropod biomass before the main rainfall peak. At least occasionally in the study area, insectivorous bird reproduction peaks after food abundance.

Keywords : Brood patch; Caatinga; food-mediated process; insect; reproduction.

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