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Impacts of extreme climatic events on the energetics of long-lived vertebrates: the case of the greater flamingo facing cold spells in the Camargue.

Abstract : Most studies analyzing the effects of global warming on wild populations focus on gradual temperature changes, yet it is also important to understand the impact of extreme climatic events. Here we studied the effect of two cold spells (January 1985 and February 2012) on the energetics of greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) in the Camargue (southern France). To understand the cause of observed flamingo mass mortalities, we first assessed the energy stores of flamingos found dead in February 2012, and compared them with those found in other bird species exposed to cold spells and/or fasting. Second, we evaluated the monthly energy requirements of flamingos across 1980-2012 using the mechanistic model Niche Mapper™. Our results show that the body lipids of flamingos found dead in 2012 corresponded to 2.6±0.3% of total body mass, which is close to results found in woodcocks (Scolopax rusticola) that died from starvation during a cold spell (1.7±0.1%), and much lower than in woodcocks which were fed throughout this same cold spell (13.0±2%). Further, Niche Mapper™ predicted that flamingo energy requirements were highest (+6-7%) during the 1985 and 2012 cold spells compared with 'normal' winters. This increase was primarily driven by cold air temperatures. Overall, our findings strongly suggest that flamingos starved to death during both cold spells. This study demonstrates the relevance of using mechanistic energetics modelling and body condition analyses to understand and predict the impact of extreme climatic events on animal energy balance and winter survival probabilities.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 3:43:37 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - 2:48:19 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, September 2, 2021 - 7:34:59 PM

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Anne-Sophie Deville, Sophie Labaude, Jean-Patrice Robin, Arnaud Béchet, Michel Gauthier-Clerc, et al.. Impacts of extreme climatic events on the energetics of long-lived vertebrates: the case of the greater flamingo facing cold spells in the Camargue.. Journal of Experimental Biology, Cambridge University Press, 2014, 217 (20), pp.3700-3707. ⟨10.1242/jeb.106344⟩. ⟨hal-01076080⟩

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