Within-year differences in reproductive investment in laboratory zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), an opportunistically breeding bird

Kathryn Williamson, Lucy Gilbert, Alison N. Rutstein, Emma C. Pariser, Jeff A. Graves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Reproduction in opportunistically breeding bird species has traditionally been considered non-seasonal with individuals taking advantage of favourable environmental conditions as they arise. However, some studies imply that this opportunistic breeding may be superimposed on an underlying seasonality, which has effects on the readiness to breed when conditions are favourable. The zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) is the classic opportunistic breeder and widely used as such in studies. In a series of laboratory-based breeding experiments, we found evidence to suggest that there are seasonal differences in maternal reproductive investment in the zebra finch even when photoperiod, temperature, relative humidity and diet were held constant. Females showed highly significant seasonal differences in clutch size and egg mass with laying order. Clutch size showed a spring/summer peak typical of multi-brooded species in the wild. There was also a significant increase in egg mass with laying order in all seasons except winter. This variation in breeding parameters with season may allow females to adjust investment depending on the potential fitness returns from a given reproductive attempt. These findings also raise a warning about interpreting results of multiple zebra finch breeding experiments that have been carried out in different seasons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1148
Number of pages6
JournalNaturwissenschaften
Volume95
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

Keywords

  • Zebra finch
  • Reproductive investment
  • Within-year differences
  • CLUTCH SIZE
  • PHOTOPERIODIC CONTROL
  • MATE ATTRACTIVENESS
  • HATCHING ASYNCHRONY
  • YOLK ANDROGENS
  • FOREST BIRD
  • GREAT TIT
  • EGG SIZE
  • SEX
  • SEASONALITY

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