Geographical effects on the mass and dimensions of finch (Fringillidae, Passeriformes) and thrush (Turdidae, Passeriformes) nests

Biddle, Lucia, Goodman, Adrian and Deeming, Charles (2016) Geographical effects on the mass and dimensions of finch (Fringillidae, Passeriformes) and thrush (Turdidae, Passeriformes) nests. Avian Biology Research, 9 (1). pp. 13-21. ISSN 1758-1559

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Birds’ nests exhibit a considerable amount of plasticity in their size and construction. Indeed, several studies
have shown that geographical location can affect this plasticity because local climatic conditions appear to
affect nest-construction behaviours. This study examined nests collected in the UK and housed either at the
University of Lincoln or at the British National Nest Reference Collection at the Hunterian Museum, University
of Glasgow. Our aim was to increase the species diversity and the sample sizes for each species, over and above
published studies. Mass and linear dimensions were recorded from nests of five finch species and two thrush
species together with longitude and latitude for the nest site locations. An effect of species was shown for all
finch nest dimensions measured but only for particular thrush dimensions. Latitude (range from 50.4 to 57.8°N)
had no effect on nest measurements taken for thrush or finch species. However, while longitude (range from
6.8°W to 1.1°E) had no effect on thrush nests, it had a significant effect on the nest mass of finches, with nests
constructed in the west being lighter in mass than those from the east. Previous studies examining the effects of
latitude have used nests collected from different locations and built in a single year, which suggests that climatic
conditions will be broadly comparable between locations. We found that museum collections have nests from
a range of years and this rather limits their value in studies trying to ascertain the effects of location. Across
different years there may be many unknown factors contributing to the patterns observed. We suggest that any
future studies of the effects of climate on nest construction will have to rely on materials especially collected
rather than using museum collections.

Keywords:finch, latitude, Longitude, nest dimensions, thrush, NotOAChecked
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C140 Developmental/Reproductive Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:22399
Deposited On:28 Feb 2016 22:17

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