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Parental and embryonic behaviours in precocial birds

Persson, Irene LU (2000)
Abstract
This thesis deals with behaviours during reproduction in precocial birds, both from the perspective of the female and of the embryos. Female pheasants in good physical condition laid larger eggs and produced a higher proportion of daughters than females in poor condition. Furthermore, females mated with a male with long spurs produced a higher proportion of sons, showing that females adjusted the primary sex ratio in relation to the phenotypic quality of the male. Females in good physical condition spent longer time on the nest both during the egg-laying and incubation period and tended to make more incubation recesses per day. This increased activity around the nest increased the risk of nest predation. Females often continued to lay eggs... (More)
This thesis deals with behaviours during reproduction in precocial birds, both from the perspective of the female and of the embryos. Female pheasants in good physical condition laid larger eggs and produced a higher proportion of daughters than females in poor condition. Furthermore, females mated with a male with long spurs produced a higher proportion of sons, showing that females adjusted the primary sex ratio in relation to the phenotypic quality of the male. Females in good physical condition spent longer time on the nest both during the egg-laying and incubation period and tended to make more incubation recesses per day. This increased activity around the nest increased the risk of nest predation. Females often continued to lay eggs after the start of full-time incubation. The number of eggs laid during incubation was positively related to the number of nesting attempts made by the female the same season, suggesting that she may start incubation early to reduce the risk of nest predation.



Embryos of precocial birds must hatch synchronously to be able to leave the nest together with the female shortly after hatching. The synchronization of hatching can be achieved either by shortening or prolonging the incubation period of the late or early embryos, respectively. Our experiments showed that mallard ducks were more inclined to shorten their incubation period, while pheasants were better at delaying hatching. Measurements of the oxygen consumption of embryos during incubation showed that embryos that were stimulated to hatch early had a higher oxygen consumption rate during the last days before external pipping, and did not have a distinct plateau phase like embryos hatching after a normal incubation period have. This indicates that embryos that shorten their incubation period try to compensate for the lost incubation time by accelerating their development during the last days of incubation. The reduction of the incubation length had several disadvantages for the chicks after hatching. Both pheasant and mallard embryos that accelerated their development was smaller after hatching, and in mallards the growth rates of body mass, tarsus and wing length were lower. Embryos of both species had a better sence of balance and ability to walk immediately after hatching if they delayed hatching, in addition to reduced rate of mortality. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
opponent
  • Prof Monaghan, Pat
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
pheasants, growth rate, oxygen consumption, hatch synchronization, incubation behaviour, nest predation, physical condition, Egg laying, primary sex ratio, mallards, Animal ecology, Djurekologi
pages
92 pages
publisher
Department of Ecology, Lund University
defense location
Ecology Building, Lund
defense date
2000-05-19 10:15
external identifiers
  • Other:ISRN: SE-LUNBDS/NBZE-00/1082+92pp
ISBN
91-7105-134-1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
e8049a23-a232-4daf-b2c4-071e036b222a (old id 40493)
date added to LUP
2007-07-31 14:51:36
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:07
@misc{e8049a23-a232-4daf-b2c4-071e036b222a,
  abstract     = {This thesis deals with behaviours during reproduction in precocial birds, both from the perspective of the female and of the embryos. Female pheasants in good physical condition laid larger eggs and produced a higher proportion of daughters than females in poor condition. Furthermore, females mated with a male with long spurs produced a higher proportion of sons, showing that females adjusted the primary sex ratio in relation to the phenotypic quality of the male. Females in good physical condition spent longer time on the nest both during the egg-laying and incubation period and tended to make more incubation recesses per day. This increased activity around the nest increased the risk of nest predation. Females often continued to lay eggs after the start of full-time incubation. The number of eggs laid during incubation was positively related to the number of nesting attempts made by the female the same season, suggesting that she may start incubation early to reduce the risk of nest predation.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Embryos of precocial birds must hatch synchronously to be able to leave the nest together with the female shortly after hatching. The synchronization of hatching can be achieved either by shortening or prolonging the incubation period of the late or early embryos, respectively. Our experiments showed that mallard ducks were more inclined to shorten their incubation period, while pheasants were better at delaying hatching. Measurements of the oxygen consumption of embryos during incubation showed that embryos that were stimulated to hatch early had a higher oxygen consumption rate during the last days before external pipping, and did not have a distinct plateau phase like embryos hatching after a normal incubation period have. This indicates that embryos that shorten their incubation period try to compensate for the lost incubation time by accelerating their development during the last days of incubation. The reduction of the incubation length had several disadvantages for the chicks after hatching. Both pheasant and mallard embryos that accelerated their development was smaller after hatching, and in mallards the growth rates of body mass, tarsus and wing length were lower. Embryos of both species had a better sence of balance and ability to walk immediately after hatching if they delayed hatching, in addition to reduced rate of mortality.},
  author       = {Persson, Irene},
  isbn         = {91-7105-134-1},
  keyword      = {pheasants,growth rate,oxygen consumption,hatch synchronization,incubation behaviour,nest predation,physical condition,Egg laying,primary sex ratio,mallards,Animal ecology,Djurekologi},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {92},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0xc3a5c00)},
  title        = {Parental and embryonic behaviours in precocial birds},
  year         = {2000},
}