Since the 1960s, anthropogenic shifts in the timing and distribution of surface-water flows in the Everglades have pushed back the onset of reproduction in Wood Storks (Mycteria americana). Late nesting increases the probability that juveniles leave the colony during the summer rainy season, when water levels are high and prey animals unavailable. We used satellite telemetry to track firstyear survival of 85 Wood Storks from southern Florida over 4 years. We further evaluated survival in relation to hydrologic and physiologic variables, including water depths, surface-water recession rates, May rainfall, use of wetland habitats, sex, total feather mercury, whiteblood-cell counts, and heterophih:lymphocyte ratios for a subset of 71 birds, using a known-fates model in Program MARK. Juveniles that dispersed from the colony during favorable conditions (surface water depths <25 cm) had a first-year survival rate of 0.37 ± 0.06 (SE), compared with 0.15 ± 0.04 for those that dispersed into unfavorable conditions (depths >25 cm). General hydrologie conditions (favorable vs. unfavorable), wetland habitat use, and white-blood-cell counts were the best predictors of monthly survival, and the strongest effects were associated with the first month postdispersal. Our study is the first to show a relationship between temporally fluctuating hydrologic variables and survival of juvenile Wood Storks, highlighting the need to consider the timing of hydrologic manipulations when managing wetlands for birds. We conclude that human-induced changes in the temporal patterns of hydrology may have important consequences for the phenology and, ultimately, the demography of wetland birds.
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Vol. 129 • No. 3