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Selection for synchronous breeding in the European starling

  • Henrik Smith
Publishing year: 2004
Language: English
Pages: 301-311
Publication/Series: Oikos
Volume: 105
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

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.


  • Ecology


  • ISSN: 1600-0706
Henrik Smith
E-mail: henrik [dot] smith [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56




Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC)

+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden