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High within-clutch repeatability of eggshell phenotype in Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) despite less maculated last-laid eggs

Citation

Levin, Iris et al. (2022), High within-clutch repeatability of eggshell phenotype in Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) despite less maculated last-laid eggs, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3j9kd51ms

Abstract

Ecological and life history variation and both interspecific and intraspecific brood parasitism contribute to diversity in egg phenotype within the same species. In this study, Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster) laid eggs with high intraclutch repeatability in egg size, shape, and maculation. Despite this high intraclutch repeatability, last-laid eggs had consistently less of the eggshell covered in spots and fewer spots than earlier-laid eggs in the clutch. We examined sources of interclutch and intraclutch variation using both direct measurements and custom-software (SpotEgg, NaturePatternMatch) that provide detailed information on egg characteristics, especially maculation measures. In addition to our main findings, maculation on different sides of the egg was highly repeatable; however, only shape, proportion of the eggshell maculated, and average spot size were repeatable between first and replacement clutches. Low intraclutch variation in maculation could allow females to recognize their clutch and this may be adaptive for colonial nesting species, such as the Barn Swallow. Characterizing intraspecific variation in egg size, shape, and maculation is the first step in understanding whether intraclutch variation is low enough - and interclutch variation high enough – such that eggs could serve as identity signals.

Funding

Kenyon College

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1856254