Effect of climate change on breeding phenology, clutch size and chick survival of an upland bird.
Upland birds are predicted to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, yet few studies have examined these effects on their breeding phenology and productivity. Laying dates of Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus scotica in the Scottish Highlands advanced by 0.5 days/year between 1992 and 2011 and were inversely correlated with pre-laying temperature, with a near-significant increase in temperature over this period. Earlier clutches were larger and chick survival was greater in earlier nesting attempts. However, chick survival was also higher in years with lower May temperatures and lower August temperatures in the previous year, the latter probably related to prey abundance in the subsequent breeding season. Although laying dates are advancing, climate change does not currently appear to be having an overall effect on chick survival of Red Grouse within the climate range recorded in this study.