Incubation attentiveness and nest insulatory values correlate in songbirds

Deeming, D. Charles and Gray, Liberty A. (2016) Incubation attentiveness and nest insulatory values correlate in songbirds. Avian Biology Research, 9 (1). pp. 32-36. ISSN 1758-1559

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Abstract

The behaviour of the incubating bird should be linked with the functional characteristics of its nest because
they could minimise the incubation period that will reduce the risk of predation. Incubation attentiveness
(percentage of daylight hours) in small passerines is a highly variable behaviour that is unrelated to egg mass.
The thermal characteristics of nests are known to vary but whether they correlate with attentiveness, i.e. high
attentiveness could reflect poorly insulated nests, has yet to be investigated. In this study, insulatory values were
determined using temperature loggers for five species of British songbird in order to supplement equivalent
data for six species from published sources. Attentiveness values for each species were determined from the
literature. There was a significant negative correlation between attentiveness and insulatory values, which was
unaffected by phylogeny. By contrast, attentiveness did not correlate with female body mass. That the avian
incubation behaviour correlates with the functional properties of bird nests supports the concept of a bird–nest
incubation unit, where reproductive success depends on both the bird and the nest structure. Further research
should be directed towards a better understanding of this relationship for more species and, given the observed plasticity exhibited in nest composition and function, within species.

Keywords:Bird nest, Incubation, Attentiveness, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C140 Developmental/Reproductive Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:22397
Deposited On:28 Feb 2016 22:11

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