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Type: Thesis
Title: The structural and thermal properties of avian cup-shaped nests.
Author: Heenan, Caragh B.
Issue Date: 2013
School/Discipline: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Abstract: Incubation in birds is energetically demanding and the energy invested to maintain egg temperature can influence the outcome of a reproductive event and therefore the lifetime reproductive success of birds. It is reasonable that heat loss can be minimised by optimising the physical structure and location of the nest. We assess the structural and thermal properties of nests across 36 species of Australian passerines, assessing variables against parent mass, egg and clutch size, once accounting for phylogenetic relationships. The surface area and volume of the nest cup increases with the surface area and volume of the clutch, as well as the size of the incubating parent. Sexual size dimorphism influences the mass and density of nests, while structural support for the parent and clutch is the primary factor driving nest thickness. A change in nest thickness with the combined mass of the parent and clutch has a direct influence on the conductance of nests, such that structurally adequate nests achieve a lower thermal conductance (higher insulation) than expected, as they increase in size. When exposed to wind or rain, the rate of heat loss from the nest increases, which is likely to have direct consequences on the energetics of the incubating parent. However, birds breeding in warm and wet conditions select materials for nest construction that have a high thermal conductivity to facilitate the nest drying process and reduce the overall cost of incubation.
Advisor: Seymour, Roger
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, 2013
Keywords: bird nest; scaling; allometry; thermal conductance; egg morphology; clutch size; reproductive energetics
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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