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Publication type: Journal Article
Document type: Full Paper

Year: 2017

Author(s): Poláček, M; Bartíková, M; Hoi, H

Title: Intraclutch eggshell colour variation in birds: are females able to identify their eggs individually?

Source: PeerJ. 2017; 5:e3707



Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Hoi Herbert,

Vetmed Research Units
Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology,


Abstract:
One possibility suggested regarding female post-mating strategies is differential allocation into offspring investment. Female birds produce not only the largest, but also most colourful eggs of all oviparous taxa. Larger eggs provide space for bigger embryos, or more nutrition for their development, but the question why eggs are more colourful and why there is variation in eggshell colouration remains. In this context, the focus of interest has been to explain inter-clutch variation but in many bird species, eggshell colouration also varies within a clutch. Surprisingly, less attention has been paid to this phenomenon. Therefore, we propose the "female egg recognition" hypothesis, suggesting that mothers use colour characteristics to interpret egg attributes and allocate further investment into each egg accordingly. To evaluate the feasibility of the hypothesis, we tested several underlying predictions and examined their suitability using a dataset from our tree sparrow (Passer montanus) study. We predict (i) substantial within-clutch variation in eggshell colouration which, (ii) should be related to laying sequence, (iii) reflect egg quality and, (iv) should stimulate a female response.


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