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Adaptive significance of egg size in the European Starling: experimental tests

  • Henrik G. Smith
  • Thomas Ohlsson
  • K. J Wettermark
Publishing year: 1995
Language: English
Pages: 1-7
Publication/Series: Ecology
Volume: 76
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Ecological Society of America

Abstract english

Reproductive success in relation to egg size was studied in European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) by swapping whole clutches between nests at the start of the incubation period. Egg size did not reflect parental quality as no measure of reproductive success was correlated with the foster mothers' mean egg size. There was a significant positive relationship between the mean size of the cross-fostered eggs and the subsequent mean size of hatchlings. The mean size of cross-fostered eggs did not affect hatching success or nestling growth rates, and initial nestling size differences between broods with large and small eggs persisted for <1 wk. No effect of mean egg size on mean nestling survival could be detected. Furthermore, a partial cross-fostering experiment, where nestlings were swapped between nests the day after hatching, failed to demonstrate any lasting effect of egg size on nestling size. It is suggested that mean egg size may only influence reproductive success during particularly inferior environmental conditions


  • Ecology


  • ISSN: 0012-9658
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