Selection for synchronous breeding in the European starling
Publishing year: 2004
Document type: Journal article
Colonial birds often demonstrate considerable breeding synchrony. In southern Sweden the semi-colonial European starling initiated the vast majority of clutches within one week. Laying dates were positively skewed so that many birds initiated clutches at similar dates early in the season. Breeding was further synchronised by a particularly strong clutch-size reduction equivalent to one third of an egg per day during the first part of the breeding season. The decline in clutch size with season also held true for separate age-classes of females, for individual females laying at different times at different years and for individual females laying at different times the same year. Trends in breeding success during nestling rearing were unlikely to explain the high degree of breeding synchrony or the seasonal decline in clutch size; nestling survival and growth were weakly related or unrelated to reproductive timing. In contrast recruitment success of fledged offspring declined sharply with season. Even within the synchronous laying period, defined as clutches initiated during the first week each year, local recruitment success declined. It is suggested that the early seasonal decline is caused by selection for synchronous fledging permitting the immediate formation of flocks after fledging, whereas the late seasonal trends may be caused by either population differences in female quality or deteriorating conditions for raising young.
- ISSN: 1600-0706
E-mail: henrik.smith [at] biol.lu.se
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