Clutch Size – the number of eggs a bird lays in one set Wild Turkey Eggs 1.Average clutch sizes range from 3 to 12 among waterfowl and 2 to 23 among gallinaceous birds 2.Clutch size can also vary within a single species, for example, from 4 to 14 in the Northern Flicker Great link to a short summary paper on clutch size
Clutch Size Relationships 1.Latitudinal Variation – Generally larger clutches in northern areas. Why? 2.Size? 3.Nest Size 4.Thermoregulatory effects 5.Habitats
Which particular # of eggs maximizes reproductive success for a particular species? Nutritional requirements for eggs formation seem to limit clutch sizes of precocial birds Feeding abilities of parents limit clutch sizes of altricial birds
General Theories of Clutch Size 1.The maximum number of eggs a bird can cover 2.Lack: The maximum number of young the parents can successfully raise. Mortality is determined by the rate of reproduction The #s of survivors per brood in relation to brood- size in Great Tits. Note that the most productive brood-size is around 10 while the the average clutch size is only about 9 Brood Size Survivors per brood
General Theories of Clutch Size 3.Skutch: Theory of Adjusted Reproduction (Reproductive rate determined by annual mortality) a. Reduction in clutch size b. Reduction in number of broods per year c. Failure of male to assist in rearing of young d. Deferment of reproductive maturity e. territorialism
Lesser Scaup (15 eggs in this nest, but usually lay 8-12). Reproductive potential of this female is decreased. Why? Or is it? Intraspecific Brood Parasitism and Clutch size 1.Intraspecific nest parasitism increases when there is a shortage of nest sites and population density is high 2.Usually results in larger clutches
Intraspecific Brood Parasitism and Clutch size 1.Female Common Goldeneyes produce fewer eggs when parasitic eggs are added to nests early in the incubation period. However, they do not compensate for the parasitic eggs added late in the incubation period and incubate unusually large clutches. 1 4 14 Early parasitism Late parasitism Shaded portion denotes the number of eggs added and white portion denotes eggs laid by incubating female
Pigments result in Colors 1.Color is added to the eggshell from pigments secreted by cells in the oviduct wall. 2.The timing of pigment deposition affects color 3.Pigments added right before the egg is laid form the patterns or markings on its surface - If the egg remains still while pigments are applied, spots appear -If the egg is moving, lines or scrawls appear. American Robin Eggs
Only three pigments are responsible for the tremendous diversity in egg color and markings 1.Protoporphyrin - produces colors ranging from yellow and pink to reddish buffs or browns. 2.biliverdin and 3. zinc chelate of biliverdin - result in blue and green colors When these three pigments are applied in different proportions, colors ranging from violet-blue to olive- green may result.
Why should the color of an egg matter to a bird? Why have any color at all?
Egg colors and markings have strong adaptive values Eggs laid on the ground or in open nests in trees often exhibit cryptic coloration. The eggs blend in with their surroundings and are much less visible to potential predators. This nest belongs to a Killdeer, a shorebird.
Egg colors and markings have strong adaptive values Distinctive patterns help females identify their own egg Each female of the Common Murre lays a single egg during each nesting with very different markings. Distinctive patterns help females identify their own egg in a colony where thousands of eggs may dot a cliff face.
Egg colors and markings have strong adaptive values a)The brightness of the eggs may help the parents of cavity-nesting birds to more easily locate eggs in the cavity, But… b)Could it be that cavity-nesting bird eggs are colorless because there was no selective pressure for camouflage since the eggs are concealed in a cavity? Eggs of cavity nesting birds, such as woodpeckers, are often white Northern Flicker Eggs