4-month internship (M1): To breed or not to breed – A dilemma in the Dalmatian Pelican’s life

SupervisionOlivier Gimenez & Alain Crivelli

Description: Life history theory predicts that individuals balance costs and benefits associated with trade-offs between current and future reproduction. If breeding early does not reduce future reproduction, then individuals reproducing early in life should have a better fitness than individuals delaying their reproduction. This delayed reproduction is often associated with long life or limited ressources.

Here, we will study the costs of reproduction as a function of age at first reproduction in the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) as well as other potential drivers such as density and food availability. The study site is Amvrakikos in Greece. More than 900 chicks have been marked, and almost 800 nesting individuals have been detected. For almost 300 of these individuals, we were able to determine breeding success over life. Over 25 years of study, more than 4000 observations have been recorded.



Cubaynes, Doherty, Schreiber & Gimenez (2011). To breed or not to breed: seabirds response to extreme climatic events. Biology Letters 7: 303-306.

Desprez, Pradel, Cam, Monnat & Gimenez (2011). Now you see him, now you don’t: Experience, not age, is related to reproduction in Kittiwakes. Proc. of the Royal Soc. B 278: 3060-3066

Doxa, Theodorou, Hatzilacou, Crivelli & Robert (2010). Joint effects of inverse density-dependence and extreme environmental variation on the viability of a social bird species. EcoScience 17: 203-2015.

Gimenez & cie (2013). How can quantitative ecology be attractive to young scientists? Balancing computer/desk work with fieldwork. Animal Conservation 16:134-136.


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