To explain the evolution of egg colouration in open cup nesting species, a number of functions have been suggested. Recent studies focus on the role of eggshell colour as a postmating sexually selected trait of females which manipulates male parental investment. A basic prediction of this hypothesis is that egg pigmentation reflects female quality. In this study we examine whether there is a relationship between eggshell colouration and either female quality or egg quality in reed warblers. This open cup nesting species has eggs that are heavily spotted with brownish marks on a bluish-green background. We used several parameters describing female and egg quality, and measured eggshell colouration at the blunt pole and the egg centre, deriving four colour variables from colour spectrometry. To determine egg quality parameters, the third egg of each clutch was sampled and analysed. To determine female quality, females were trapped shortly after egg laying, and several morphological and a single conditional variable were determined. Additionally, a blood sample was taken to determine blood parasites (avian malaria and Trypanosoma spp.) and a faecal sample to determine intestinal parasites (Isospora spp). Our results revealed that eggshell pigmentation appears to be independent of female condition and parasites, but reflects concentrations of egg compounds such as testosterone and lysozyme. Egg colouration is also related to yolk weight and egg size. Our results further suggested that the information about colour varies depending on the position on the egg (blunt pole or egg centre). The only relationship with females was between female size (tarsus length) and egg colouration, which suggests a genetic component. We discuss reasons for the absence of a relationship between egg colouration and female quality.

Does egg colouration signal female and egg quality in reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)?

GRIGGIO, MATTEO;
2013

Abstract

To explain the evolution of egg colouration in open cup nesting species, a number of functions have been suggested. Recent studies focus on the role of eggshell colour as a postmating sexually selected trait of females which manipulates male parental investment. A basic prediction of this hypothesis is that egg pigmentation reflects female quality. In this study we examine whether there is a relationship between eggshell colouration and either female quality or egg quality in reed warblers. This open cup nesting species has eggs that are heavily spotted with brownish marks on a bluish-green background. We used several parameters describing female and egg quality, and measured eggshell colouration at the blunt pole and the egg centre, deriving four colour variables from colour spectrometry. To determine egg quality parameters, the third egg of each clutch was sampled and analysed. To determine female quality, females were trapped shortly after egg laying, and several morphological and a single conditional variable were determined. Additionally, a blood sample was taken to determine blood parasites (avian malaria and Trypanosoma spp.) and a faecal sample to determine intestinal parasites (Isospora spp). Our results revealed that eggshell pigmentation appears to be independent of female condition and parasites, but reflects concentrations of egg compounds such as testosterone and lysozyme. Egg colouration is also related to yolk weight and egg size. Our results further suggested that the information about colour varies depending on the position on the egg (blunt pole or egg centre). The only relationship with females was between female size (tarsus length) and egg colouration, which suggests a genetic component. We discuss reasons for the absence of a relationship between egg colouration and female quality.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/2836859
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