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Data from: Silver spoon effects of hatching order in an asynchronous hatching bird

Cite this dataset

Song, Zitan et al. (2018). Data from: Silver spoon effects of hatching order in an asynchronous hatching bird [Dataset]. Dryad.


The silver spoon hypothesis proposes that individuals which develop under favourable conditions will gain fitness benefits throughout their lifetime. Hatching order may create a considerable size hierarchy within a brood and lead to earlier-hatched nestlings having a competitive advantage over their siblings, which has been illustrated in some studies. However, there have been few explorations into the effect on subsequent generations. Here, using a 15-year-long study, we investigated the long-term fitness consequence of hatching order in the endangered crested ibis, Nipponia nippon, a species with complete hatching asynchrony. In this study, we found strong support for silver spoon effects acting on hatching order. Compared to later-hatched nestlings, first-hatched nestlings begin reproduction at an earlier age, have higher adult survival rates, possess a longer breeding life span and achieve higher lifetime reproductive success. Interestingly, we found carry-over effects of hatching order into the next generation. Nestlings which hatched earlier and became breeders in turn also produced nestlings with larger tarsus and better body condition. Additionally, we found a positive correlation among life-history traits in crested ibis. Individuals which started reproduction at a younger age were shown to possess a longer breeding life span. And the annual brood size increased with an individual’s breeding life span. This suggests that the earlier-hatched nestlings are of better quality and the ‘silver spoon’ effects of hatching order cover all life-history stages and next generation effects.

Usage notes


The study was carried out at Shaanxi Hanzhong Crested Ibis National Nature Reserve within the range 33°05′ to 33°45′N and 107°25′ to 107°82′E.