Extreme weather affects Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus tundrius) breeding success in South Greenland

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In order to better understand the potential effects of climate change on the Peregrine Falcon, we investigated the relationship between extreme weather events and Peregrines’ breeding success in South Greenland. We defined three variables – number of days with extremely low temperatures, extreme precipitation, consecutive rainy days – and an additive variable, total days with extreme weather, and tested their relationship with Peregrines’ breeding success (measured as young per site and nest success) over a 33 year study period. Breeding success was negatively influenced by the number of days with extreme weather and extremely low temperature. The strongest relationship found was total days with extreme weather in the entire breeding season, which explained 22% and 27% of the variation in nest success and young per site, respectively. The number of days with extreme weather in our study related to fluctuations in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Thus, with a strengthening of the NAO, linked to climate change, more extreme weather may occur in the Arctic and induce increased variation in Peregrines’ breeding success. Our data did not allow us to pinpoint when in the breeding cycle inclement weather was particularly harmful, and we recommend finer-scale research (e.g. automated nest cameras) to better monitor the species-specific effects of rapidly changing climate.

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