Local climate conditions impact on breeding performance of house martin (Delichon urbica) populations in Algeria

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The Mediterranean climate of North Africa encompasses an interesting variety of sub-climates, from humid and sub-humid to semi-arid and arid. Such variability may provide vital insights into mechanisms that drive species distribution and offered us an ideal opportunity to test phenotypic variations along gradients. We aim in this study to investigate the breeding behaviour of house martin Delichon urbica (Linnaeus, 1758) populations along regional climatic gradients in north-eastern Algeria. During two consecutive breeding seasons (2016–2017), nine field sites (328 active nests) belonging to three different sub-climates: humid, sub-humid, and semi-arid were surveyed regularly from March to August.We used generalized linear models to test the relevance of local climate and several ecological variables on laying reproductive output. Laying dates were positively correlated with climate condition (GOF = 0.42), the semi-arid climate creating appropriate conditions for advancing the laying process, whereas sub-humid and humid climate delayed it. Clutch-size and number of chicks hatched per nest were affected by local climate conditions; they were greater in humid areas than in sub-humid and semi-arid ones. The other non-climatic variables as brood order, laying date, distance to fields, and distance to water were not significant. The spatial analysis around nest sites of house martins also showed that dense vegetation cover and reduced urbanization levels may be potential predictors of breeding behaviour. Nest sites located in humid areas with dense vegetation cover, and low urbanization levels that characterize the surrounding landscape provide high-breeding success rate to this species if compared to sub-humid and semi-arid areas. These findings can be a useful indicator of environmental change in a country that is already experiencing severe drought stresses, uncontrolled urbanization, and high deforestation rates.