Evol Ecol Res 2: 823-839 (2000)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Factors influencing the clutch size, number of broods and annual fecundity of North American and European land birds

Katrin Böhning-Gaese, Bettina Halbe, Nicole Lemoine and Reik Oberrath

Institut für Biologie II, RWTH Aachen, Kopernikusstr. 16, D-52074 Aachen, Germany

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: boehning@bio2.rwth-aachen.de


We conducted a comparative analysis of 373 North American and 252 European land bird species to determine whether clutch size, annual number of broods and annual fecundity (clutch size × annual number of broods) are influenced by body size, diet, nest type, nest location, nestling development, migratory behaviour, habitat, latitude, continent and the phylogenetic relatedness among the species. The most significant factors influencing the three life-history traits were body size, nestling development, migratory behaviour and latitude. Body size had a negative effect on clutch size, number of broods and annual fecundity. Precocial species had larger clutches, fewer broods and higher annual fecundity than altricial birds. Long-distance migrants had smaller clutches, fewer broods and lower annual fecundity than short-distance migrants and residents. With increasing latitude, there was a significant increase in clutch size and a similarly strong decrease in number of broods, but no latitudinal gradient in annual fecundity. Thus, birds breeding at high latitudes had, on average, the same annual fecundity as species breeding at low latitudes (within North America and Europe). Phylogenetic effects were strong, particularly in clutch size. However, controlling for phylogenetic effects using permutational phylogenetic regression had only a minor influence on the results. Comparing the present results with those of previous studies on the three life-history traits demonstrates that results differ considerably and depend mainly on the diversity of bird species included in the study.

Keywords: body size, broods, clutch size, fecundity, land birds, latitude, migratory behaviour, nestling development.

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