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Pigment limitation and female reproductive characteristics influence egg shell spottiness and ground colour variation in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus)

(2010) JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY. 151(4). p.833-840
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Abstract
One of the hypotheses to explain egg colour variation in birds lays in the context of sexual selection, where egg colour may signal the female's physical condition and antioxidant capacity. We tested one of the assumptions following from this hypothesis, that eggshell pigment deposition should be limited for females. The study was conducted in a captive house sparrow (Passer domesticus) population over several years under constant environmental conditions. This multi-brooded species lays eggs which vary in ground colour (biliverdin pigment) and in the intensity and distribution of brownish-red spots (protoporphyrin pigment). Spot darkness, spread and ground colour diminished along the laying sequence, suggesting that the deposition of both pigments was limiting for females over the short term. Also, the proportion of eggs with biliverdin diminished in consecutive clutches laid by the same female over the breeding season, suggesting a long-term cost of biliverdin deposition. On the other hand, spots were darker at the end of the breeding season, indicating that protoporphyrin deposition was probably not limited over the long term. This result could indicate a lower capacity for calcium deposition over the long term, which was compensated for by darker spots. Female age also significantly affected the proportion of bluish eggs and spot patterns. Egg pigmentation decreased with age, indicating that senescing passerine females lay less pigmented eggs. Clutch size was positively related to the proportion of bluish eggs and to spot patterns (darker and more evenly spotted). These results are in accordance with assumptions for the sexual selection hypothesis.
Keywords
TITS CYANISTES-CAERULEUS, AVIAN EGGSHELL PIGMENTS, WARBLERS ACROCEPHALUS-SCIRPACEUS, CUCKOO CUCULUS-CANORUS, BROOD PARASITISM, SEXUAL SELECTION, NEST PARASITISM, PARUS-MAJOR, CLUTCH-SIZE, BIRDS, Biliverdin, Protoporphyrin, Laying sequence, Clutch size, Age

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Citation

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Chicago
Lopez de Hierro, Maria Dolores G, and Liesbeth De Neve. 2010. “Pigment Limitation and Female Reproductive Characteristics Influence Egg Shell Spottiness and Ground Colour Variation in the House Sparrow (Passer Domesticus).” Journal of Ornithology 151 (4): 833–840.
APA
Lopez de Hierro, M. D. G., & De Neve, L. (2010). Pigment limitation and female reproductive characteristics influence egg shell spottiness and ground colour variation in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus). JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY, 151(4), 833–840.
Vancouver
1.
Lopez de Hierro MDG, De Neve L. Pigment limitation and female reproductive characteristics influence egg shell spottiness and ground colour variation in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus). JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY. 2010;151(4):833–40.
MLA
Lopez de Hierro, Maria Dolores G, and Liesbeth De Neve. “Pigment Limitation and Female Reproductive Characteristics Influence Egg Shell Spottiness and Ground Colour Variation in the House Sparrow (Passer Domesticus).” JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY 151.4 (2010): 833–840. Print.
@article{1233140,
  abstract     = {One of the hypotheses to explain egg colour variation in birds lays in the context of sexual selection, where egg colour may signal the female's physical condition and antioxidant capacity. We tested one of the assumptions following from this hypothesis, that eggshell pigment deposition should be limited for females. The study was conducted in a captive house sparrow (Passer domesticus) population over several years under constant environmental conditions. This multi-brooded species lays eggs which vary in ground colour (biliverdin pigment) and in the intensity and distribution of brownish-red spots (protoporphyrin pigment). Spot darkness, spread and ground colour diminished along the laying sequence, suggesting that the deposition of both pigments was limiting for females over the short term. Also, the proportion of eggs with biliverdin diminished in consecutive clutches laid by the same female over the breeding season, suggesting a long-term cost of biliverdin deposition. On the other hand, spots were darker at the end of the breeding season, indicating that protoporphyrin deposition was probably not limited over the long term. This result could indicate a lower capacity for calcium deposition over the long term, which was compensated for by darker spots. Female age also significantly affected the proportion of bluish eggs and spot patterns. Egg pigmentation decreased with age, indicating that senescing passerine females lay less pigmented eggs. Clutch size was positively related to the proportion of bluish eggs and to spot patterns (darker and more evenly spotted). These results are in accordance with assumptions for the sexual selection hypothesis.},
  author       = {Lopez de Hierro, Maria Dolores G and De Neve, Liesbeth},
  issn         = {0021-8375},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY},
  keywords     = {TITS CYANISTES-CAERULEUS,AVIAN EGGSHELL PIGMENTS,WARBLERS ACROCEPHALUS-SCIRPACEUS,CUCKOO CUCULUS-CANORUS,BROOD PARASITISM,SEXUAL SELECTION,NEST PARASITISM,PARUS-MAJOR,CLUTCH-SIZE,BIRDS,Biliverdin,Protoporphyrin,Laying sequence,Clutch size,Age},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {833--840},
  title        = {Pigment limitation and female reproductive characteristics influence egg shell spottiness and ground colour variation in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus)},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10336-010-0520-1},
  volume       = {151},
  year         = {2010},
}

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