Data from: Food supplementation fails to reveal a trade-off between incubation and self-maintenance in female house wrens
Lothery, Cassie J.; Thompson, Charles F.; Lawler, Megan L.; Sakaluk, Scott K. (2014), Data from: Food supplementation fails to reveal a trade-off between incubation and self-maintenance in female house wrens, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.15527
Incubating birds must allocate their time and energy between maintaining egg temperature and obtaining enough food to meet their own metabolic demands. We tested the hypothesis that female house wrens (Troglodytes aedon) face a trade-off between incubation and self-maintenance by providing females with supplemental food during incubation. We predicted that food supplementation would increase the amount of time females devoted to incubating their eggs, lower their baseline plasma corticosterone levels (a measure of chronic stress), and increase their body mass, haematocrit (a measure of anaemia), and reproductive success relative to control females. As predicted, food-supplemented females spent a greater proportion of time incubating their eggs than control females. Contrary to expectation, however, there was no evidence that food supplementation significantly influenced female baseline plasma corticosterone levels, body mass, haematocrit, or reproductive success. However, females with high levels of corticosterone at the beginning of incubation were more likely to abandon their nesting attempt after capture than females with low levels. Corticosterone significantly increased between the early incubation and early nestling stages of the breeding cycle in all females. These results suggest that although food supplementation results in a modest increase in incubation effort, it does not lead to significantly lower levels of chronic stress as reflected in lower baseline corticosterone levels. We conclude that female house wrens that begin the incubation period with low levels of plasma corticosterone can easily meet their own nutritional needs while incubating their eggs, and that any trade-off between incubation and self-feeding does not influence female reproductive success under the conditions at the time of our study.