Data from: The trade-off between clutch size and egg mass in tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) is modulated by female body mass
Pellerin, Stéphanie et al. (2015), Data from: The trade-off between clutch size and egg mass in tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) is modulated by female body mass, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.76735
Egg production is a costly component of reproduction for female birds in terms of energy expenditure and maternal investment. Because resources are typically limited, clutch size and egg mass are expected to be constrained, and this putative trade-off between offspring number and size is at the core of life history theory. Nevertheless, empirical evidence for this trade-off is equivocal at best, as individual heterogeneity in resource acquisition and allocation may hamper the detection of the negative correlation between egg number and mass within populations. Here, we investigated how female body mass and landscape composition influences clutch size, egg mass, and the relationship between these two traits. To do so, we fitted linear mixed models using data from tree swallows Tachycineta bicolor breeding in a network of 400 nestboxes located along a gradient of agricultural intensity between 2004 and 2011. Our dataset comprised 1463 broods for clutch size analyses and 4371 eggs (from 847 broods laid between 2005–2008) for egg mass analyses. Our results showed that agricultural intensity negatively impacted clutch size, but not egg mass nor the relationship between these two traits. Female mass, on the other hand, modulated the trade-off between clutch size and egg mass. For heavier females, both traits increased jointly, without evidence of a trade-off. However, for lighter females, there was a clear negative relationship between clutch size and egg mass. This work shows that accounting for individual heterogeneity in body mass allows the detection of a clutch size/egg mass trade-off that would have remained undetected otherwise. Identifying habitat and individual effects on resource allocation towards reproductive traits may help bridging the gap between predictions from theory and empirical evidence on life history trade-offs.