It is widely accepted that tropical birds differ from temperate species in life-history traits and social behaviors, yet baseline ecological data are lacking for most tropical species and comparative studies often fail to control for phylogenetic influences. Within the Americas, the Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) is ideal for such comparisons because its subspecies encompass a range of life-history strategies; the subspecies include long-distance migrants, temperate–tropical migrants, and tropical residents. We collected baseline data on the breeding ecology of Mangrove Warblers (D. p. bryanti) from southern Mexico (2001–2003) and compared their life-history traits with those of temperate and other tropical subspecies using existing data. Mangrove Warblers actively defended territories year-round during both nonbreeding and breeding seasons. The timing of breeding varied by year, and clutch size averaged 2.9 ± 0.5 [SD] eggs, with both a median and a mode of 3 eggs. Annual estimates of nesting success ranged from 18% to 33%, and nest depredation was the primary cause of nest failure. Annual survival was significantly higher for males (0.65) than for females (0.52) and, given our data, did not vary by age or year. On the basis of a comparative analysis of life-history data from published studies on the Yellow Warbler subspecies complex, we found that most life-history traits differed between tropical and temperate latitudes. Specifically, compared with temperate Yellow Warblers, Mangrove Warblers exhibited longer breeding seasons, smaller clutch sizes, longer incubation and nestling periods, lower nesting success, higher rates of nest depredation, and higher annual adult survival rates.
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Vol. 125 • No. 2