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Data from: Laying sequence interacts with incubation temperature to influence rate of embryonic development and hatching synchrony in a precocial bird

Citation

Hepp, Gary R.; Kennamer, Robert A. (2019), Data from: Laying sequence interacts with incubation temperature to influence rate of embryonic development and hatching synchrony in a precocial bird, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mg5mk

Abstract

Incubation starts during egg laying for many bird species and causes developmental asynchrony within clutches. Faster development of late-laid eggs can help reduce developmental differences and synchronize hatching, which is important for precocial species whose young must leave the nest soon after hatching. In this study, we examined the effect of egg laying sequence on length of the incubation period in Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa). Because incubation temperature strongly influences embryonic development rates, we tested the interactive effects of laying sequence and incubation temperature on the ability of late-laid eggs to accelerate development and synchronize hatching. We also examined the potential cost of faster development on duckling body condition. Fresh eggs were collected and incubated at three biologically relevant temperatures (Low: 34.9°C, Medium: 35.8°C, and High: 37.6°C), and egg laying sequences from 1 to 12 were used. Length of the incubation period declined linearly as laying sequence advanced, but the relationship was strongest at medium temperatures followed by low temperatures and high temperatures. There was little support for including fresh egg mass in models of incubation period. Estimated differences in length of the incubation period between eggs 1 and 12 were 2.7 d, 1.2 d, and 0.7 d at medium, low and high temperatures, respectively. Only at intermediate incubation temperatures did development rates of late-laid eggs increase sufficiently to completely compensate for natural levels of developmental asynchrony that have been reported in Wood Duck clutches at the start of full incubation. Body condition of ducklings was strongly affected by fresh egg mass and incubation temperature but declined only slightly as laying sequence progressed. Our findings show that laying sequence and incubation temperature play important roles in helping to shape embryo development and hatching synchrony in a precocial bird.

Usage Notes

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: IOB-0615361

Location

southern United States
North America
South Carolina