TitleExperimental dissociation of individual quality, food and timing of breeding effects on double-brooding in a migratory songbird.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsO'Brien, EL, Dawson, RD
Date Published2013 Jul
KeywordsAnimal Migration, Animals, Feeding Behavior, Female, Male, Reproduction, Sexual Behavior, Animal, Songbirds

Annual reproductive success in many species is influenced by the number of breeding attempts within a season. Although previous studies have shown isolated effects of female quality, food, and timing of breeding on the probability of female birds producing second broods, to our knowledge, none have tested the relative importance of multiple factors and their interactions using simultaneous manipulations within populations of free-living birds. In this study, we show that individual quality and timing of breeding interact to affect the probability of double-brooding in female mountain bluebirds (Sialia currucoides). High-quality females (those that naturally initiated clutches early in the season) were more likely to double-brood, regardless of whether their hatching date was advanced or delayed, whereas later breeding, lower quality females were much less likely to double-brood when their first attempt was delayed. This indicates that annual fecundity of poorer quality (or younger) female bluebirds may be more sensitive to seasonal variation in environmental conditions. In addition, birds that were provided with supplemental food throughout first breeding attempts were more likely to double-brood in one of the study years, suggesting that female bluebirds may be energetically limited in their capacity to initiate a second brood. Females that had their first brood delayed also had a shorter inter-brood interval and were moulting fewer feathers during second broods compared to controls, while females in better condition showed more advanced moult in second breeding attempts. Taken together, our results demonstrate the combined effects of age- or individual quality-mediated energetic trade-offs between current and future reproduction, and between investments in offspring and self-maintenance, on annual fecundity of female birds.

Alternate JournalOecologia
PubMed ID23229392