Data from: Higher nest predation favors rapid fledging at the cost of plumage quality in nestling birds
Callan, Lea M.; La Sorte, Frank A.; Martin, Thomas E.; Rohwer, Vanya G. (2019), Data from: Higher nest predation favors rapid fledging at the cost of plumage quality in nestling birds, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.p6m33p3
High predation risk can favor rapid offspring development at the expense of offspring quality. Impacts of rapid development on phenotypic quality should be most readily expressed in traits that minimize fitness costs. We hypothesize that ephemeral traits that are replaced or repaired over a short period of life might express trade-offs in quality as a result of rapid development more strongly than traits used for life. We explored this idea using plumage quality in nestling body feathers, an ephemeral trait. We found a strong trade-off whereby nestlings that spend less time in the nest produced lower quality plumage with less dense barbs relative to adults across 123 temperate and tropical species. Using a subset of these species (n=67), we found that variation in the risk of nest predation explained additional variation in plumage quality beyond development time. Ultimately, the fitness costs of a poor quality ephemeral trait, like nestling body feathers, may be outweighed by the fitness benefits of shorter development times that reduce predation risk. At the same time, reduced resource allocation to traits with small fitness costs, like ephemeral traits, may ameliorate resource constraints from rapid development on traits with larger fitness impacts.