Thermal benefits of nest shelter for incubating female eiders

D'Alba, L., Monaghan, P. and Nager, R.G. (2009) Thermal benefits of nest shelter for incubating female eiders. Journal of Thermal Biology, 34(2), pp. 93-99. (doi: 10.1016/j.jtherbio.2008.11.005)

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1. In species that actively maintain optimal conditions for offspring development, the quality of the breeding site may have a substantial effect on reproductive effort and breeding success. Here, we studied the effect of nest shelter on reproductive costs for incubating female common eiders (Somateria mollissima) nesting in an arctic environment using both a correlative and an experimental approach. 2. The correlative data showed that females that nested in naturally well-sheltered nests experienced milder temperatures, laid larger clutches, provided a more favourable thermal environment for their eggs and had a higher hatching success than those at exposed nest-sites. 3. We added artificial shelters to exposed nest-sites and compared them to unmanipulated exposed nest-sites to examine the effect of nest shelter in females of similar quality. Costs of nesting in exposed sites were greater as evidenced by the reduced female mass loss and more favourable thermal conditions for the eggs at artificially sheltered nest-sites relative to exposed nest-sites. However, there was no difference in hatchings success between artificially sheltered and exposed nest-sites. 4. This study shows even small changes in the climatic conditions at the nest-site can have substantial consequences for reproductive effort, but the association between nest-site quality and breeding success in eiders is due to better quality individuals occupying better nest-sites.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Nest shelter, Microclimate, Common eider, Incubation, Capital breeder, Nest-site selection
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Monaghan, Professor Pat and D'Alba, Ms Liliana and Nager, Dr Ruedi
Authors: D'Alba, L., Monaghan, P., and Nager, R.G.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Journal of Thermal Biology

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