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Breeding at higher latitude is associated with higher photoperiod threshold and delayed reproductive development in a songbird
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  • Devraj Singh,
  • Susan Reed,
  • Abby Kimmitt,
  • Kaitlin Alford,
  • Craig Stricker,
  • David Polly,
  • Ellen Ketterson
Devraj Singh
Indiana University Bloomington
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Susan Reed
Indiana University Bloomington
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Abby Kimmitt
Indiana University Bloomington
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Kaitlin Alford
Indiana University Bloomington
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Craig Stricker
USGS
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David Polly
Indiana University, Bloomington
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Ellen Ketterson
Indiana University
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Abstract

Many organisms time reproduction to photoperiod, a constant from year to year.  Predicting how anthropogenic change will influence future timing demands greater knowledge of the current role of photoperiod.  We held two closely related bird populations in a common environment. One population is resident; the other winters in sympatry with the resident population but migrates north prior to reproducing. We increased photoperiod gradually and measured preparation for migration and reproduction, using feather stable isotopes to estimate breeding latitude. We predicted population differences in the minimum stimulatory day length to elicit a response (CPP, critical photoperiod) and co-variation between CPP and distance migrated. We found clear population differences in CPP and greater CPP in longer distance migrants. We conclude that current geographic variation in reproductive timing has a genetic or early developmental basis and recommends that future research focus on how anthropogenic changes will interact with CPP to adjust the timing of reproduction and migration.