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Data from: The role of partial incubation and egg repositioning within the clutch in hatching asynchrony and subsequent effects on breeding success

Citation

Diez-Méndez, David; Rodríguez, Samuel; Álvarez, Elena; Barba, Emilio (2019), Data from: The role of partial incubation and egg repositioning within the clutch in hatching asynchrony and subsequent effects on breeding success, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gc7qf50

Abstract

The main mechanism to achieve hatching asynchrony (HA) for incubating birds is to start heating the eggs before clutch completion. This might be achieved through partial incubation and/or early incubation. Even in the absence of incubation behaviour during the laying phase, clutches still experience a certain degree of asynchrony. Recent studies have shown that eggs located in the centre of the nest receive more heat than peripheral ones during incubation. Since eggs receiving more heat would develop faster, we hypothesised that HA should be shorter in nests where eggs were moved homogeneously along the centre-periphery space during incubation compared to those nests where eggs repeatedly remained in the same locations, either centrally or peripherally. We explored the relative roles of egg repositioning and partial incubation in determining HA in wild birds by (1) removing eggs from 20 Great Tit Parus major nests on day of laying and replacing them with fake eggs to avoid partial incubation, and returning them when full incubation began; (2) monitoring twice a day the position of each individually marked egg relative to the clutch centre during incubation, and estimating the coefficient of variation of the distances (CVdistance); (3) determining HA in each nest. Preventing partial incubation reduced HA by 51% days in experimental nests. It also caused negative effects for the incubating females (lengthening the full incubation period) and positive effects for the brood (increasing fledging success). However, our hypothesis about the role of egg repositioning on HA was not supported: all the females moved the eggs with remarkable consistency, generally attaining a CVdistance around 33%, and it was not related to the HA experienced. We therefore conclude that partial incubation is an important factor regulating HA, and females compensate for the potential effects of differential heating by moving the eggs homogeneously within the clutch.

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