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The effects of experience and age on the breeding performance of western gulls


, : The effects of experience and age on the breeding performance of western gulls. Auk 108(1): 25-33

We examined the independent effects of age and breeding exerience on reproductive success in Western Gulls (Larus occidentalis) 3-9 years old. Both factors significantly enhanced success after the other factor had been satistically controlled. When the sexes were analyzed separately, previous breeding experience had a significant influence on success of females but not males, whereas among first-time breeders, age was significantly more important to males than to females. The trends with experience were curvilinear, which indicates that the advantages of experience after the first breeding attempt decreased. The linear trends with age implied that increases in success are realized more constantly through 9 years of age. Breeding experience enhanced clutch size of the female as well as hatching success of both sexes, but while age enhanced the timing of breeding by both sexes and clutch size, hatching success, and fledging success of the male but not the female. Our results relate to sex-specific roles in reproduction, and we suggest that deferred breeding may be more effectve strategy for males than for females.

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