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Data from: Are blue eggs a sexually selected signal of female collared flycatchers? A cross-fostering experiment

Citation

Krist, Miloš; Grim, Tomáš (2010), Data from: Are blue eggs a sexually selected signal of female collared flycatchers? A cross-fostering experiment, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2016

Abstract

Impressive variation in egg colouration among birds has puzzled evolutionary biologists for a long time. The most frequently studied selective forces moulding egg colouration – predation and brood parasitism – have either received little empirical support or may play a role in only a minority of species. A novel hypothesis has suggested that egg colour may be significantly influenced by sexual selection. Females may deposit a blue-green pigment biliverdin into eggshells instead of using it for themselves as a powerful antioxidant. By this handicap females may signal their quality to males which are then hypothesized to increase their paternal effort. We experimentally tested the hypothesis in the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis), a species laying blue-green eggs. We cross-fostered clutches between nests to disentangle effects of female/territory quality and egg colour on paternal effort and nestling quality. The results supported two assumptions of sexual signalling through egg colour hypothesis: blue pigment seems to be a limited resource for females and female quality is positively correlated with intensity of blue-green colour. However, we did not find support for the main prediction of the hypothesis as male parental effort parameters (feeding frequencies to nestlings and intensity of nest defence) were unrelated to egg colour. We discuss possible reasons for the discrepancy between our results and previous correlative analyses that supported the hypothesis that blue egg colour may be a postmating sexually selected signal in females.

Usage Notes

Location

Central Europe