Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/77658
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Type: Journal article
Title: Parents, predators, parasites, and the evolution of eggshell colour in open nesting birds
Author: Hanley, D.
Cassey, P.
Doucet, S.
Citation: Evolutionary Ecology, 2013; 27(3):593-617
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publ
Issue Date: 2013
ISSN: 0269-7653
1573-8477
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Daniel Hanley, Phillip Cassey, Stéphanie M. Doucet
Abstract: The colourful surface of birds’ eggshells varies dramatically between species, but the selective pressures driving this variation remain poorly understood. We used a large comparative dataset to test several hypotheses proposed to explain the evolution of eggshell colouration. We tested the hypothesis that predation pressure might select for cryptic eggshells by examining the relationship between predation rate and egg colouration. We found that predation rates were positively related to eggshell brightness. The blackmail hypothesis suggests that females lay colourful eggshells to coerce males into providing additional care during incubation to keep colourful eggs covered. According to this hypothesis, conspicuous eggs should be found in situations with high risk of visual detection from predators or brood parasites. In support of this hypothesis, proportional blue-green chroma was positively related to parasitism risk, and eggs with higher proportional blue-green chroma or higher ultraviolet chroma received higher combined parental nest attendance during the incubation period. The sexual signalling hypothesis states that blue-green colour indicates female quality; however, we did not find that blue-green eggshell colour was greater in species where males participate in any form of parental care, and relative male provisioning was unrelated to blue-green eggshell chroma. We found some support for the hypothesis that brood parasitism may select for high inter-clutch variation in eggshell colour to facilitate egg recognition. In our dataset, parasitism risk was negatively related to inter-clutch repeatability of blue-green chroma. Our study highlights the diversity of selection pressures acting on the evolution of eggshell colour in birds and provides suggestions for novel areas of future key research direction.
Rights: © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012
RMID: 0020126628
DOI: 10.1007/s10682-012-9619-6
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications
Environment Institute Leaders publications

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