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Body temperature is a repeatable trait in a free-ranging passerine bird

Cite this dataset

Tapper, Simon (2021). Body temperature is a repeatable trait in a free-ranging passerine bird [Dataset]. Dryad.


Body temperature (Tb) affects animal function through its influence on rates of biochemical and biophysical reactions, the molecular structures of proteins and tissues, metabolic rate, and ultimately, organismal performance. Despite its importance in driving physiological processes, there are few data on how much variation in Tb exists within populations of organisms, and whether this variation consistently differs among individuals over time (i.e., repeatability of a trait). Understanding the repeatability of Tb is important for predicting how animal populations will respond to climatic warming, given that endotherms maintain Tb that are close to the upper lethal threshold.  Here, we quantified the repeatability of Tb, both in the context of a fixed average environment (~21°C) environment and across ambient temperatures, in a free-living population of tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). by experimentally trimming the ventral plumage of a subset of female swallows, we also asked whether the repeatability of Tb is influenced by the capacity to dissipate body heat. We found that the Tb of both female and male tree swallows was highly repeatable at 21°C, and with increasing ambient temperatures. The repeatability of female Tb did not differ as a function of heat dissipation capacity, thereby supporting the hypothesis that individual performance is limited by the capacity to dissipate body heat. To our knowledge, our study is the first to provide evidence that Tb is a repeatable trait in a free-living bird, and that avian Tb could therefore be responsive to natural selection.

Usage notes

The attached files contain the necessary descriptions for understanding and working with data used in the construction of Tapper et al. 2020, "Body temperature is a repeatable trait in a free-ranging passerine bird" (submitted to Journal of Experimental Biology). The Repeatability_dryad_readme.docx file contains descriptions of each file name attached to this data repository, and descriptions of the data contained within each column of a data file. Information pertaining to the R code, which has been provided in this data repository as a .Rmd (R Markdown) file, has not been provided within this readme file, because necessary descriptions for understanding our code are provided within the R code file itself.